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Full text of "Robin Hood: a collection of all the ancient poems, songs and ballads, now extant, relative to that celebrated English outlaw"

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A^ ^ K^ 

University of California • Berkeley 

From the book collection of 


bequeathed by him 
or donated by his wife 

Mildred S. Bronson 






% Collectfon of all tbe Bnclent ipoems, 

SoxiQQ an& JBallaDs, now ejtant, IRelative to 

tbat GelebrateD JEnglisb Outlaw 



Wiit\i €tg^t? mooD €ngrat)ing«( 


aijso Bine CtcTjings; from flDriginal Paintingsf 

VOL. I. 






This edition of Robin Hood is printed from that 
published in i8j2j which was carefully edited atid 
printed from Mr. Ritson^s own annotated edition 

of 1795- 

The original wood engravings^ by the celebrated 
Bewick^ have been again used ; and from being 
printed on China paper^ will be found superior in 
clearness and beauty to the first impression. 

The nine etchings now given have been newly 
etched from original pictures painted by A. H. 
TouRRiER and E. Buckman. 
















Page xlv 






. . . 58 


. . . 89 


. ' . .132 


'HE singular circumstance that the 
name of an outlawed individual of 
the twelfth or thirteenth century 
should continue traditionally popu- 
lar, be chanted in ballads, and, as one may say. 

Familiar in our mouth as household words, 

at the end of the eighteenth, excited the editor's 
curiosity to retrieve all the historical or poetical 
remains concerning him that could be met with : 
an object which he has occasionally pursued for 
many years; and of which pursuit he now pub- 
lishes the result. He cannot, indeed, pretend that 
his researches, extensive as they must appear, have 
been attended with all the success he could have 
wished; but, at the same time, it ought to be 
acknowledged that many poetical pieces, of great 
antiquity and some merit, are deservedly rescued 
from oblivion. 

The materials collected for the " Life " of this 
celebrated character, which are either preserved at 

( xii ) 

large or carefully referred to in the "Notes and 
Illustrations," are not, it must be confessed, in every 
instance, so important, so ancient, or, perhaps, 
so authentic, as the subject seems to demand; 
although the compiler may be permitted to say, 
in humble second-hand imitation of the poet 
Martial : 

Some there are good, some middling, and some bad ; 
But yet they were the best that could be had. 

Desirous to omit nothing that he could find upon 
the subject, he has everywhere faithfully vouched 
and exhibited his authorities, such as they are : 
it would, therefore, seem altogether uncandid or 
unjust to make him responsible for the want of 
authenticity of such of them as may appear liable 
to that imputation. 


>T will scarcely be expected that one should 
be able to offer an authentic narrative of 
the life and transactions of this extraordi- 
nary personage. The times in which he lived, the 
mode of life he adopted, and the silence or loss of 
contemporary writers, are circumstances sufficiently 
favourable, indeed, to romance, but altogether inimi- 
cal to historical truth. The reader must, therefore, 
be contented with such a detail, however scanty or 
imperfect, as a zealous pursuit of the subject enables 
one to give ; and which, though it may fail to satisfy, 
may possibly serve to amuse. 

No assistance has been derived from the labours 
of his professed biographers (i) ;* and even the in- 

* For Notes, &c., see p. xiv. et seg. 


dustrious Sir John Hawkins, from whom the public 
might have expected ample gratification upon the 
subject, acknowledges that " the history of this popu- 
lar hero is but little known, and all the scattered 
fragments concerning him, could they be brought 
together, would fall far short of satisfying such an 
inquirer as none but real and authenticated facts will 
content. We must," he says, " take his story as we 
find it." He accordingly gives us nothing but two or 
three trite and trivial extracts, with which every one 
at all curious about the subject was as well acquainted 
as himself. It is not, at the same time, pretended, 
that the present attempt promises more than to bring 
together the scattered fragments to which the learned 
historian alludes. This, however, has been done, 
according to the best of the compiler's information 
and abilities ; and the result is, with a due sense 
of the deficiency of both, submitted to the reader's 

Robin Hood was born at Locksley, in the county 
of Nottingham (2), in the reign of King Henry the 
Second, and about the year of Christ 11 60 (3). 
His extraction was noble, and his true name Robert 
FiTZOOTH, which vulgar pronunciation easily cor- 
rupted into Robin Hood (4). He is frequently 
styled, and commonly reputed to have been. Earl 
of Huntingdon ; a title to which, in the latter 
part of his life, at least, he actually appears to have 
had some sort of pretension (5). In his youth he 


is reported to have been of a wild and extravagant 
disposition ; insomuch that, his inheritance being con- 
sumed or forfeited by his excesses, and his person 
outlawed for debt, either from necessity or choice, 
he sought an asylum in the woods and forests, with 
which immense tracts, especially in the northern 
parts of the kingdom, were at that time covered (6). 
Of these, he chiefly affected Barnsdale, in Yorkshire, 
Sherwood, in Nottinghamshire, and, according to 
some, Plompton Park, in Cumberland (7). Here 
he either found, or was afterward joined by, a num- 
ber of persons in similar circumstances — 

' ' Such as the fury of ungovern'd youth 
Thrust from the company of awful men," (8) 

who appear to have considered and obeyed him as 
their chief or leader, and of whom his principal 
favourites, or those in whose courage and fidelity 
he most confided, where Little John (whose surname 
is said to have been Nailor), William Scadlock 
(Scathelock or Scarlet), George a Green, pinder (or 
pound-keeper) of Wakefield, Much, a miller's son, 
and a certain monk or frier named Tuck (9). He 
is likewise said to have been accompanied in his re- 
treat by a female, of whom he was enamoured, and 
whose real or adopted name was Marian ( i o). 

His company, in process of time, consisted of a 
hundred archers ; men, says Major, most skilful in 
battle, whom four times that number of the boldest 
fellows durst not attack (11). His manner of recruit- 
ing was somewhat singular ; for, in the words of an 


old writer, " whersoever he hard of any that were of 
unusual strength and 'hardines,' he would desgyse 
himselfe, and, rather then fayle, go lyke a begger to 
become acquaynted with them; and, after he had 
tryed them with fyghting, never give them over tyl 
he had used means to drawe [them] to lyve after his 
fashion " (12): a practice of which numerous instances 
are recorded in the more common and popular songs, 
where, indeed, he seldom fails to receive a sound 
beating. In shooting with the long bow, which they 
chiefly practised, "they excelled all the men of the 
land ; though, as occasion required, they had also 
other weapons" (13). 

In those forests, and with this company, he for 
many years reigned like an independent sovereign ; 
at perpetual war, indeed, with the King of England, 
and all his subjects, with an exception, however, of 
the poor and needy, and such as were " desolate and 
oppressed," or stood in need of his protection. When 
molested, by a superior force in one place, he retired 
to another, still defying the power of what was called 
law and government, and making his enemies pay 
dearly, as well for their open attacks, as for their 
clandestine treachery. It is not, at the same time, 
to be concluded that he must, in this opposition, have 
been guilty of manifest treason or rebellion ; as he 
most certainly can be justly charged with neither. 
An outlaw, in those times, being deprived of protec- 
tion, owed no allegiance : " his hand was against 
every man, and every man's hand against him" (14). 


These forests, in short, were his territories ; those 
who accompanied and adhered to him his subjects : 

" The world was not his friend, nor the world's law :" 

and what better title King Richard could pretend to 
the territory and people of England than Robin Hood 
had to the dominion of Barnsdale or Sherwood is a 
question humbly submitted to the consideration of the 
political philosopher. 

The deer with which the royal forests then abounded 
(ever)^ Norman tyrant being, like Nimrod, "a mighty 
hunter before the Lord ") would afford our hero and 
his companions an ample supply of food throughout 
the year ; and of fuel, for dressing their vension, or 
for the other purposes of Hfe, they could evidently be 
in no want. The rest of their necessaries would be 
easily procured, partly by taking what they had occa- 
sion for from the wealthy passenger who traversed or 
approached their territories, and partly by commerce 
with the neighbouring villages or great towns. 

It may be readily imagined that such a life, during 
great part of the year, at least, and while it continued 
free from the alarms or apprehensions to which our 
foresters, one would suppose, must have been too 
frequently subject, might be sufficiently pleasant and 
desirable, and even deserve the compliment which is 
paid to it by Shakespeare in his comedy of As you 
like it (act i. scene i), where, on Oliver's asking, 
"Where will the old duke live?" Charles answers, 
" They say he is already in the forest of Arden, and 


a many merry men with him ; and there they live 
hke the old Robin Hood of England ; . . . and 
fleet the time carelessly as they did in the golden 
world." Their gallant chief, indeed, may be presumed 
to have frequently exclaimed with the banished Valen- 
tine, in another play of the same author : * 

' ' How use doth breed a habit in a man ! 
This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods, 
I better brook than flourishing peopled towns : 
Here can I sit alone, unseen of any, 
And, to the nightingale's complaining notes, 
Tune my distresses and record my woes." 

He would doubtless, too, often find occasion to add : 

"What hallooing and what stir is this to-day? 
These are my mates, that make their wills their law, 
Have some unhappy passenger in chace : 
They love me well ; yet I have much to do. 
To keep them from uncivil outrages." 

But, on the other hand, it will be at once difficult and 
painful to conceive, 

-When they did hear 

The rain and wind beat dark December, how. 
In that their pinching cave, they could discourse 
The freezing hours away ! " (15). 

Their mode of life, in short, and domestic economy, 
of which no authentic particulars have been even 
traditionally preserved, are more easily to be guessed 
at than described. They have, nevertheless, been 
elegantly sketched by the animating pencil of an 
excellent though neglected poet : — 

♦ Two Gentlemen of Verona, act v. scene 4, 


" The merry pranks he play'd, would ask an age to tell, 
And the adventures strange that Robin Hood befell, 
When Mansfield many a time for Robin hath been laid, 
How he hath cousen'd them, that him would have betray'd ; 
How often he hath come to Nottingham disguis'd, 
And cunningly escap'd, being set to be surpriz'd. 
In this our spacious isle, I think there is not one. 
But he hath heard some talk of him and Little John ; 
And to the end of time, the tales shall ne'er be done, 
Of Scarlock, George a Green, and Much the miller's son, 
Of Tuck the merry frier, which many a sermon made 
In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws, and their trade. 
An hundred valiant men had this brave Robin Hood, 
Still ready at his call, that bowmen were right good. 
All clad in Lincoln green (i6), with caps of red and blue, 
His fellow's winded horn not one of them but knew, 
When setting to their lips their little beugles shrill. 
The warbling ecchos wak'd from every dale and hill. 
Their bauldricks set with studs, athwart their shoulders cast, 
To which under their arms their sheafs were buckled fast, 
A short sword at their belt, a buckler scarce a span. 
Who struck below the knee, not counted then a man : 
All made of Spanish yew, their bows were wondrous strong ; 
They not an arrow drew, but was a cloth-yard long. 
Of archery they had the very perfect craft. 
With broad-arrow, or but, or prick, or roving shaft. 
At marks full forty score, they us'd to prick, and rove. 
Yet higher than the breast, for compass never strove ; 
Yet at the farthest mark a foot could hardly win : 
At long-outs, short, and hoyles, each one could cleave the 

pin : 
Their arrows finely pair'd, for timber, and for feather. 
With birch and brazil piec'd to fly in any weather ; 
And shot they with the round, the square, or forked pile, 
The loose gave such a twang, as might be heard a mile. 
And of these archers brave, there was not any one, 
But he could kill a deer his swiftest speed upon. 
Which they did boil and roast, in many a mighty wood, 
Sharp hunger the fine sauce to their more kingly food. 


Then taking them to rest, his merry men and he 

Slept many a summer's night under the greenwood tree. 

From wealthy abbots' chests, and churls' abundant store, 

What oftentimes he took, he shar'd amongst the poor : 

No lordly bishop came in lusty Robin's way. 

To him before he went, but for his pass must pay : 

The widow in distress he graciously reliev'd, 

And remedied the wrongs of many a virgin griev'd : (17) 

He from the husband's bed no married woman wan, 

But to his mistress dear, his loved Marian, 

Was ever constant known, which wheresoe'er she came, 

Was sovereign of the woods ; chief lady of the game : 

Her clothes tuck'd to the knee, and dainty braided hair. 

With bow and quiver arm'd, she wander'd here and there, 

Amongst the forests wild ; Diana never knew 

Such pleasures, nor such harts as Mariana slew. " * 

That our hero and his companions, while they 
lived in the woods, had recourse to robbery for their 
better support is neither to be concealed nor to be 
denied. Testimonies to this purpose, indeed, would 
be equally endless and unnecessary. Fordun, in 
the fourteenth century, calls him '■'■ ille famosissimiis 
siccarius" that most celebrated robber, and Major 
terms him and Little John '-'' famatissimi lairones" 
But it is to be remembered, according to the con- 
fession of the latter historian, that, in these exertions 
of power, he took away the goods of rich men only ; 
never killing any person, unless he was attacked or 
resisted : that he would not suffer a woman to be 
maltreated ; nor ever took anything from the poor, 
but charitably fed them with the wealth he drew 
from the abbots. I disapprove, says he, of the rapine 
* Drayton's Polyolbion, song xxvi. 


of the man : but he was the most humane and the 
prince of all robbers (i8). In allusion, no doubt, 
to this irregular and predatory course of life, he has 
had the honour to be compared to the illustrious 
Wallace, the champion and deliverer of his country ; 
and that, it is not a little remarkable, in the latter's 
own time (19). 

Our hero, indeed, seems to have held bishops, 
abbots, priests, and monks, in a word, all the clergy, 
regular or secular, in decided aversion. 

" These byshoppes and thyse archebyshoppes, 
Ye shall them bete and bynde," 

was an injunction carefully impressed upon his fol- 
lowers. The Abbot of Saint Mary's, in York (20), 
from some unknown cause, appears to have been 
distinguished by particular animosity : and the Sheriff 
of Nottinghamshire (21), who may have been too 
active and officious in his endeavours to apprehend 
him, was the unremitted object of his vengeance. 

Notwithstanding, however, the aversion in which 
he appears to have held the clergy of every denomi- 
nation, he was a man of exemplary piety, according 
to the notions of that age, and retained a domestic 
chaplain (Frier Tuck, no doubt) for the diurnal cele- 
bration of the divine mysteries. This we learn from 
an anecdote preserved by Fordun (22), as an instance 
of those actions which the historian allows to deserve 
commendation. One day, as he heard mass, which 
he was most devoutly accustomed to do (nor would 



he, in whatever necessity, suffer the office to be in- 
terrupted,) he was espied by a certain sheriff and 
officers belonging to the king, who had frequently 
before molested him in that most secret recess of 
the wood where he was at mass. Some of his people, 
who perceived what was going forward, advised him 
to fly with all speed, which, out of reverence to the 
sacrament, which he was then most devoutly wor- 
shipping, he absolutely refused to do. But the rest 
of his men having fled for fear of death, Robin, con- 
fiding solely in Him whom he reverently worshipped, 
with a very few, who by chance were present, set 
upon his enemies, whom he easily vanquished ; and, 
being enriched with their spoils and ransom, he 
always held the ministers of the Church and masses 
in greater veneration ever after, mindful of what is 
vulgarly said : 

" Him God does surely hear 
Who oft to th' mass gives ear." 

Having, for a long series of years, maintained a 
sort of independent sovereignty, and set kings, judges, 
and magistrates at defiance, a proclamation was 
published (23) offering a considerable reward for 
bringing him in either dead or alive ; which, how- 
ever, seems to have been productive of no greater 
success than former attempts for that purpose. At 
length, the infirmities of old age increasing upon 
him (24), and desirous to be relieved, in a fit of sick- 
ness, by being let blood, he applied for that purpose 
to the Prioress of Kirkleys nunnery in Yorkshire, his 


relation (women, and particularly religious women, 
being, in those times, somewhat better skilled in 
surgery than the sex is at present), by whom he was 
treacherously suffered to bleed to death. This event 
happened on the i8th of November 1247, being the 
31st year of King Henry III. and (if the date assigned 
to his birth be correct) about the 87th of his age (24). 
He was interred under some trees, at a short distance 
from the house ; a stone being placed over his grave, 
with an inscription to his memory (25). 

Such was the end of Robin Hood : a man who, in 
a barbarous age, and under a complicated tyranny, 
displayed a spirit of freedom and independence 
which has endeared him to the common people, 
whose cause he maintained (for all opposition to 
tyranny is the cause of the people), and, in spite of 
the malicious endeavours of pitiful monks, by whom 
history was consecrated to the crimes and foUies of 
titled ruffians and sainted idiots, to suppress all 
record of his patriotic exertions and virtuous acts, 
will render his name immortal. 

With respect to his personal character : it is suffi- 
ciently evident that he was active, brave, prudent, 
patient ; possessed of uncommon bodily strength and 
considerable military skill ; just, generous, benevo- 
lent, faithful, and beloved or revered by his followers 
or adherents for his excellent and amiable qualities. 
Fordun, a priest, extols his piety. Major (as we have 
sean) pronounces him the most humane and the prince 
of all robbers ; and Camden, whose testimony is of 


some weight, calls him '-'- prcBcionem mitissimum^'^ the 
gentlest of thieves. As proofs of his universal and 
singular popularity : his story and exploits have 
been made the subject as well of various dramatic 
exhibitions (26), as of innumerable poems, rimes, 
songs and ballads (27) : he has given rise to divers 
proverbs (28) ; and to swear by him, or some of his 
companions, appears to have been a usual practice 
(29) : his songs have been chanted on the most solemn 
occasions (30) ; his service sometimes preferred to 
the Word of God (31) : he may be regarded as the 
patron of archery (32); and, though not actually 
canonised (a situation to which the miracles wrought 
in his favour, as well in his lifetime as after his 
death, and the supernatural powers he is, in some 
parts, supposed to have possessed (33), give him an 
indisputable claim), he obtained the principal dis- 
tinction of sainthood, in having a festival allotted to 
him, and solemn games instituted in honour of his 
memory, which were celebrated till the latter end 
of the sixteenth century ; not by the populace only, 
but by kings or princes and grave magistrates ; and 
that as well in Scotland as in England ; being con- 
sidered, in the former country, of the highest poli- 
tical importance, and essential to the civil and reli- 
gious liberties of the people, the efforts of govern- 
ment to suppress them frequently producing tumult 
and insurrection (34). His bow, and one of his 
arrows, his chair, his cap, and one of his slippers, 
were preserved, with peculiar veneration, till within 


the present century (35) ; and not only places which 
afforded him security or amusement, but even the 
well at which he quenched his thirst, still retain his 
name (36) : a name which, in the middle of the 
present century, was conferred as a singular distinc- 
tion upon the prime minister to the king of Mada- 
gascar (37). 

After his death his company was dispersed (38). 
History is silent in particulars : all that we can, there- 
fore, learn is, that the honour of Little John's death 
and burial is contended for by rival nations (39) ; 
that his grave .continued long "celebrous for the 
yielding of excellent whetstones ; " and that some of 
his descendants, of the name of Nailor, which he 
himself bore, and they from him, were in being so 
late as the last century (40). 

( xiv ) 


(i) ^'■Former biographers,^'' &^f.] Such, that is, as have 
already appeared in print, since a sort of manuscript life in 
the Sloane Library will appear to have been of some service. 
The first of these respectable personages is the author, or 
rather compiler, of " The noble birth and gallant atchieve- 
ments of that remarkable outlaw Robin Hood ; together 
with a true account of the many merry extravagant exploits 
he played ; in twelve several stories : newly collected by an 
ingenious antiquary. London, printed by W. O." [William 
Onley], 4to, black letter, no date. These ''several stories," 
in fact, are only so many of the songs in the common 
Garland transposed ; and the " ingenious antiquary," who 
strung them together, has known so little of his trade, that 
he sets out with informing us of his hero's banishment by 
King Henry the Eighth. The above is supposed to be the 
*' small merry book " called Robin Hood, mentioned in a 
list of "books, ballads, and histories, printed for and sold 
by William Thackeray at the Angel in Duck-lane " (about 
1680), preserved in one of the volumes of old ballads (part 
of Bagford's collection) in the British Museum. 

Another piece of biography, from which much will not be 
expected, is "The lives and heroick atchievements of the 
renowned Robin Hood and James Hind, two noted robbers 
and highwaymen. London, 1752." 8vo. This, however, 
is probably nothing more than an extract from Johnson's 
'* Lives of the Highwaymen," in which, as a specimen of the 
author's historical authenticity, we have the life and actions 
of that noted robber, Sir John Falstaff. 

J-^^j^ ^ti^mML^ ^ g^, 



The principal if not sole reason why our hero is never 
once mentioned by Matthew Paris, Benedictus Abbas, or 
any other ancient English historian, was most probably his 
avowed enmity to churchmen ; and history, in former times, 
was written by none but monks. They were unwilling to 
praise the actions which they durst neither misrepresent nor 
deny. Fordun and Major, however, being foreigners, have 
not been deterred by this professional spirit from rendering 
homage to his virtues. 

(2) — '^zuas bo7-n at Locksley, in the county of Notting- 
ham.'^'\ "Robin Hood," says a MS. in the British Museum 
(Bib. Sloan. 715), written, as it seems, toward the end of 
the sixteenth century, " was borne at Lockesley in Yorkshyre, 
or after others in Nottinghamshire." The writer here labours 
under manifest ignorance and confusion, but the first row 
of the rubric will set him right : 

" In Locksly town, in merry Nottinghamshire, 
In merry sweet Locksly town, 
There bold Robin Hood was born and was bred, 
Bold Robin of famous renown." * 

Dr. Fuller (Worthies of England, 1662, p. 320) is doubtful 
as to the place of his nativity. Speaking of the "Memorable 
Persons" of Nottinghamshire, "Robert Hood," says he, 
*' (if not by birth) by his chief abode this country-man." 

The name of such a town as Locksley, or Loxley (for so 
we sometimes find it spelled), in the county of Nottingham 
or of York, does not, it must be confessed, occur either in 
Sir Henry Spelman's Villare Anglicum, in Adams's Index 
Villaris, in Whatley's England's Gazetteer,! in Thoroton's 
History of Nottinghamshire, or in the Nomina Villarum 
Eboracensium (York, 1768, 8vo). The silence of these 
authorities is not, however, to be regarded as a conclusive 
proof that such a place never existed. The names of towns 
and villages, of which no trace is now to be found but in 
ancient writings, would fill a volume. 

* See Part II. Ballad i. 

t All three mention a Loxley in Warwickshire, and another in 
Staffordshire ("near Needwood forest; the manor and seat of the 
Kinardsleys '). 


(3) — ** m the reign of King Henry the Second^ and about 
the year of Christ i i6o."] " Robin Hood," according to the 
Sloane MS., " was borne ... in the dayes of Henry the 2nd, 
about the yeare 1160." This was the 6th year of that 
monarch; at whose death (anno 1 189) he would, of course, 
be about 29 years of age. Those writers are therefore pretty 
correct who represent him as playing his pranks (Dr. Fuller's 
phrase) in the reign of King Richard the First, and, according 
to the last-named author, "about the year of our Lord 
1200." * Thus Mair (who is followed by Stowe, Annales, 
1592, p. 227), "Circa hsec tempora [sci. Ricardi L] ut 
auguror," &c. A MS. note in the Museum (Bib. Har. 1233), 
not, in Mr. Wanley's opinion, to be relied on, places him 
in the same period, " Temp. Rich. I." Nor is Fordun 
altogether out of his reckoning in bringing him down to the 
time of Henry HI., as we sliall hereafter see ; and with him 
agrees Andrew of Wyntowne, in his *' Oryginale Cronykil," 
written about 1420, which, at the year 1283, has the following 
lines : 

" Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude 
Wayth-men were commendyd gud .* 
In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale 
Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale." 

A modern writer (History of Whitby, by Lionel Charlton, 
York, 1779, 4to), though of no authority in this point, 
has done well enough to speak of him as living "in the 
days of abbot Richard and Peter his successor ; " that is, 
between the years 11 76 and 12 ii. The author of the two 
plays upon the story of our hero, of which a particular ac- 
count will be hereafter given, makes him contemporary with 
King Richard, who, as well as his brother Prince John, is 
introduced upon the scene ; which is confirmed by another 
play, quoted in Note 5. Warner, also, in his Albion's 
England, 1602, p. 132, refers his existence to "better daie<?, 
first Richard's dales." This, to be sure, may not be such 
evidence as would be sufficient to decide the point in a 
court of justice ; but neither judge nor counsel will dispute 

* It is 1100 in the original, but that is clearly an error of the press. 


the authority of that oracle of the law Sir Edward Coke, 
who pronounces that "This Robert Hood lived in the reign 
of King R. I." (3 Institute, 197). 

We must not therefore regard what is said by such writers 
as the author of "George a Greene, the pinner of Wake- 
field," 1599 (see Note 9), who represents our hero as con- 
temporary with King Edward IV.,* and the compiler of a 
foolish book called "The noble birth, &c. of Robin Hood" 
(see Note l), who commences it by informing us of his 
banishment by King Henry VHI. As well, indeed, might 
we suppose him to have lived before the time of Charle- 
magne, because Sir John Harington, in his translation of the 
Orlando Furioso, 1590, p. 391, has made 

"Duke 'Ammon in great wrath thus wise to speake : 
This is a Tale indeed of Robin Hood, 
Which to beleeve, might show my wits but weake ;" 

or to imagine his story must have been familiar to Plutarch, 
because in his Morals, translated by Dr. Philemon Holland, 
1603, p. 644, we read the following passage : — " Evenso 
[i.e. as the crane and fox serve each other in ^Esop], when 
learned men at a table plunge and drowne themselves (as it 
were, in subtile problemes and questions interlaced with 
logicke, which the vulgar sort are not able for their lives to 
comprehend and conceive ; whiles they also againe for their 
part come in with their foolish songs, and vain ballads of 
Robin-Hood and Little John, telling tales of a tubbe, or of 
a roasted horse, and such like." Who, indeed, would be 
apt to think that his skill in archery was known to Virgil ? 
And yet, as interpreted by our facetious friend Mr. Charles 
Cotton, he tells us that 

" Cupid was a little tyny, 
Cogging, lying, peevish nynny ; 
But with a bow the shit-breecht elf 
Would shoot like Robin Hood himself." 

In a word, if we are to credit translators, he must have 

* King Edward, it is true, is introduced in the " Lytell Geste," &c., 
but the author has unquestionably meant the/lrst of that name. 


existed before the siege of Troy ; for thus, according to one 
of Homer's : 

"Then came a choice companion 
Of Robin Hood and Little John, 
Who many a buck and many a doe, 
In Sherwood forest, with his bow, 
Had nabb'd ; believe me it is true, sir, 
The fellow's Christian name was Teucer." 

Iliad, by Bridges, 4to, p. 231.* 

This last supposition, indeed, has even the respectable coun- 
tenance of Dan Geoffrey Chaucer : 

*' Pandarus answerde, it may be well inough, 
And held with him of all that ever he saied, 
But in his hart he thought, and soft lough. 
And to himselfe full soberly he saied, 
From haselhvood there Jolly Robin plaied, 
Shall come all that thou abidest here. 
Ye, farewell all the snow of feme yere." 

Troilus (B, 5), Speght's edition, 1602. 

(4) ^^ His extraclion was noble, and his true name Robert 
Fitzoothy^ In "an olde and auncient pamphlet," which 
Grafton the chronicler had seen, it was written that "This 
man discended of a noble parentage." The Sloane MS. 
says " He was of ... . parentage ; " and though the material 
word is illegible, the sense evidently requires noble. So, 
likewise, the Harleian note : " It is said that he was of noble 
blood." Leland also has expressly termed him "nobilis" 
(Collectanea, i. 54). The following account of his family 
will be found sufficiently particular. Ralph Fitzothes, or 
Fitzooth, a Norman, who had come over to England with 
William Rufus, married Maud or Matilda, daughter of 
Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Kyme and Lindsey, by whom he 
had two sons : Philip, afterward Earl of Kyme, that earldom 
being part of his motlier's dowry, and WilHam. Philip the 
elder died without issue ; William was a ward to Robert 
de Vere, Earl of Oxford, in whose household he received his 
education, and who, by the king's express command, gave 

* Thus, likewise, in a much earlier version from the same immortal 
bard {Homer a la mode, 1664), we read of 

•' greate Apollo, who's as good 

At pricks and buts as Robin Hood." 


him in marriage to his own niece, the youngest of the three 
daughters of the celebrated Lady Roisia de Vere, daughter 
of Aubrey de Vere, Earl of Guisnes in Normandy, and lord 
high chamberlain of England under Henry I., and of Adeliza, 
daughter to Richard de Clare, Earl of Clarence and Hertford, 
by Payn de Beauchamp, baron of Bedford, her second hus- 
band. The offspring of this marriage was our hero, Robert 
Fitzooth, commonly called Robin Hood. (See Stukeley's 
Palseographia Britannica, No. I. passim.) 

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1793, 
under the signature D. H.,* pretends that Hood is only a 
corruption of " o' th' wood, q.d. of Sherwood." This, to 
be sure, is an absurd conceit ; but, if the name were a matter 
of conjecture, it might be probably enough referred to some 
particular sort of hood our hero wore by way of distinction 
or disguise. See Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, p. 
522. In Jonson's masque of " The king's entertainment at 
Welbeck" (Works, 1756, vii. 53), certain characters are 
introduced "in livery hoods," of whom Fitz-ale says, 

" Six hoods they are, and of the blood, 
They tell of ancient Robin Hood." 

It may be remembered that Hugh Capet^ the first king of 
France of the third and last race, obtained that surname 
from a similar circumstance. It is unnecessary to add 
that Hood is a common surname at this day, as well as a 
place in Yorkshire, formerly Hode ; and that Edward the 
Third, in the tenth year of his reign, confirmed to Thomas, 
the son of Robert de Hode, of Hoveden, in tail-general, certain 
places of moorland, ^c, in vasto de Incklesmore, 6^r. (Ro. 
Pa. 10 E. 3. m. 31). 

(5) ";% is frequently styled . . . Earl of Huntingdon, a 
title to which, for the latter part of his life at least, he actually 
appears to have had some sort of pretension."} In Grafton's 
" olde and auncient pamphlet," though the author had, as 
already noticed, said '' this man discended of a noble 
PARENTAGE," he adds, "or rather beyng of a base stocke 

* Alias R. G., the scurrilous and malignant editor of that degraded 


and linage, was for his manhood and chivalry advaunced to the 
noble dignitie of an erle." 

In the MS. note (Bib. Har. 1233) is the following passage : 
" It is said thai he was of noble blood no lesse then an earle." 
Warner, in his Albion's England, already cited, calls him "a 
county." The titles of Mundy's two plays are : "The down- 
fall" and *'The death of Robert earle of Huntington." He 
is likewise introduced in that character in the same author's 
Metropolis Coronata, hereafter cited. In his epitaph we shall 
find him expressly styled ** Robert, Earl of Huntingtun." 

In*' A pleasant commodie called Looke about you," 
printed in i6"oo, our hero is introduced, and performs a prin- 
cipal part. He is represented as the young Earl of Hunting- 
ton, and in ward to Prince Richard, though his brother 
Henry, the young king, complains of his having "had wrong 
about his wardship." He is described as 

" A gallant youth, a proper gentleman ; " 
and is sometimes called ** pretty earle " and "little wag." 
One of the characters thus addresses him : 

" But welcome, welcome, and young Huntington, 
Sweet Robyn Hude, honor's best flowing bloome," 

and calls him 

" an honourable youth, 

Vertuous and modest, Huntington's right heyre." 

It is also said that 

" His father Gilbert was the smoothst fac't lord 
That ere bare armes in England or in Fraunce." 

In one scene, " Enter Richard and Robert with coronets." 

'^ Rich. Richard the Prince of England, with his ward, 
The noble Robert Hood, earle Huntington, 
Present their service to your majestie." 

Dr. Percy's objection, that the most ancient poems make 
no mention of this earldom,* but only call him a yeoman, 
will be considered in another place. How he founded his 
pretensions to this title will be seen in his pedigree. Here 
it is. 

* The authority cited by Grafton in 1569 as then "olde and auncient " 
must have been at least of equal antiquity with the most ancient poems 
that Dr. P. is acquamted with. 





Waltheof earl of=Judith countess of 

Richard Fitzgil-: 
bert de Clare, 
earl of Brien. 

and Huntington, 

Huntingdon, ^ the 
conqueror's niece. 

II. I 2 III. 

Simon de S.=Maud= David I. 


Alice= Robert Fitzgilbert. 

lis I. earl of 
and Hunting- 
don .... 


of Scots, earl 
of Huntingdon. 

Henry earl of=Ada daugh 

land and Hun- 

V. I 
SimonS.lisII.=IsabeI dau. of 
earl of North- i Robert Bossu 
ampton and earl of Leices- 
Huntington. ter. 

VI. I 

Malcolm IV. king 
of Scots, earl of 
and Huntingdon. 

ter of Wil- 
liam earl of 

Gilbert de Gaunt=Roisia. 
earl of Kyme and 
Lindsey came in 
with the con- 

Walter de Gaunt 
I earl of Lind- 
I sey. 

Gilbert de Gaunt=Avis dau. 

earl of Lincoln. I and heir of 

Romara e 
of Lincoln 


William earl of Huntingdon, 

Simon S. lis III. earl of Hun-= Alice heiress, 
tingdon and Northton. ob. s. 
p. 1 184. 


David earl of ' Carrick ' and Hunting- 
don, son of Henry IV. (above) earl 
and of Ada. ob. 12 19. 

Ralf Fitzooth a 
Norman, lord 
of Kyme. 


Philip Fitzooth, 
lord of Kyme, 
ob. s. p. 

John simamed Scot his son, earl 
of Angus and Huntingdon, ob. s. 
P- 1237- 

William Fitzooth— a daughter of 
brought up by Ro- I Payn Beau- 
bert earl of Oxford, champ and 

! lady Roisia de 


Robert Fitzooth, commonly called Robin Hood, 
pretended earl of Huntington, ob. 1274 [1247]." * 

Stukeley's Palaeographia Britannica, No. II. p. 115. In an inter- 


(6) " In his youth he is reported to have been of a wild 
and extravagant disposition, " ^r^c-l Grafton's pamphlet, after 
supposing him to have been "advaunced to the noble dignitie 
of an erle," continued thus : "But afterwardes he so prodi- 
gally exceeded in charges and expences, that he fell into 
great debt, by reason whereof, so many actions and sutes were 
commenced against him whereunto he answered not, that by 

leaved copy of Robin Hood's Garland formerly belonging to Dr. Stuke- 
ley, and now in the possession of Francis Douce, esquiie, opposite the 
second page of the first song, is the following note in his own hand : 

" Guy earl of Warwick. 

George Gamwell Joanna= 

of Gamwell hall magna I Fitz Odoth 

esq. I 

Robin Fitz Odoth 

Gamwell the king's forester in Yorkshire, 
mentioned in Camden. 

See my answer, No. II. of Lady Roisia, 
where is Robin Hood's true pedigree." 

The Doctor seems, by this pedigree, to have founded our hero's preten- 
sions on his descent from Roisia, sister of Robert Fitzgilbert, husband 
of Alice, youngest daughter of Judith, Countess of Huntingdon, which, 
whatever it might do in those times, would scarcely be thought sufficient 
to support such a claim at present. Beside, though John the Scot died 
without issue, he left three sisters, all married to powerful barons, either 
in Scotland or in England, none of whom, however, assumed the title. 
It is, therefore, probable, after all, that Robin Hood derived his earldom 
by some other channel. 

Dr. Stukeley, whose learned labours are sufficiently known and 
esteemed, was a professed antiquary, and a beneficed clergyman of the 
Church of England. He has not, it is true, thought it necessary to cite 
any ancient or other authority in support of the above representations ; 
nor is it in the editor's power to supply the deficiency. Perhaps, indeed, 
the Doctor might think himself entitled to expect that his own authority 
would be deemed sufficient : upon that, however, they must be content 
to rest. Sit fides penes auctorem I Mr. Parkin, who published " A reply 
to the peevish, weak, and malevolent objections brought by Dr. Stuke- 
ley in his Origines Roystonianae, No. 2" (Norwich, 1748, 4to), terms 
" his pedigree of Robin Hood, quite jocose, an original indeed ! " (See 
pp. 27, 32.) 

Otho and Fitz-Otho, it must be confessed, were common names among 


order of lawe he was outlawed." * Leland must undoubtedly 
have had good authority for calling him " nobilis ille exlex."f 
Fordun supposes him in the number of those deprived of 
their estates by King Henry HI. " Hoc intempore," says he, 
"de exheredatis surrexit & caput erexit ille famosissimus 
siccarius Robertus Hode & littill Johanne cum eorum com- 
plicibus " (p. 774). The Sloane MS. says he was " so ryotous 
that he lost or sould his patrimony & for debt became an 
outlawe ; " and the Harleian note mentions his "having 
wasted his estate in riotous courses." The former authority, 
however, gives a different, though, it may be, less credible, 
account of his being obliged to abscond. It is as follows : 
" One of his first exployts was the going abrode into a forrest 
& bearing with him a bowe of exceeding great strength, he fell 
into company with certayne rangers or woodmen, who fell to 
quarrel with him, as making showe to use such a bowe as no 
man was able to shoote withall. Whereto Robin replyed 
that he had two belter then that at Lockesley, only he bare 
that with him nowe as a byrding bowe. At length the 'con- 
tention' grewe so bote that there was a wager layd about the 
kyllyng of a deere a greate distance of, for performance whereof 
Robin offered to lay his head to a certayne some of money, 
the advantage of which rash speach the others presently tooke. 
So the marke being found out, one of them, both to make 
his hart faynt and hand unsteady, as he was about to shoote 
urged him with the losse of head if he myst the marke. Not- 
withstanding Robyn kyld the deare, and gave every man his 

the Anglo-Normans, l but no such name as Othes. Ooth, Fitz-Othes, or 
Fitz-Ooth, has been elsewhere met with. Philip de Kime, also, was 
certainly a considerable landholder in the county of Lincoln in the lime 
of King Henry II., but it nowhere appears, except from Dr. Stukeley, 
that his surname was Fitz-Ooth. 

The Doctor likewise informs us that the arms of Ralph Fitz-Ooth, and 
consequently of our hero, were " g. two bemilets engrailed, o." 

* Grafton's Chronicle, p. 85. t Collec. i. 54. 

1 " Filius Roberti filii Odonis est in custodia Domini Regis, et est vj 
annorum, et ipse est heres decime partis unms militis, et vix possum 
inde habere victum suum ipse et mater sua." Rotulus de vidius, &c. 
(31 H. 2) MSS. Har. 624. 


money agayne, save to him which at the poynt of shooting so 
upbraided him with danger to loose his hed for that wager ; 
& he sayd they would drinke togeyther : whereupon the 
others stomached the matter and from quarelling they grewe 
to fighting with him. But Robin, getting him somewhat of, 
with shooting dispatch them, and so fled away ; and then 
betaking himselfe to lyve in the woods," &c.* 

That he lurked or infested the woods is agreed by all. 
" Circa hsec tempora," says Major, '* Robertus Hudus Anglus 
& parvus Joannes, latrones famatissimi, in nemoribus latue- 

Dr. Stukeley says that " Robin Hood took to this wild way 
of life in imitation of his grandfather Geoffrey de Mandeville, 
who being a favorer of Maud empress. King Stephen took 
him prisoner at S. Albans, and made him give up the tower 
of London, Walden, Plessis, &c., upon which he lived on 
plunder " (MS. note in his copy of Robin Hood's Garland). 

(7) " Of these, he chiefly affected Barnsdale, " d^c.} "Along 
on the lift hond," says Leland, " a iii. miles of betwixt Mil- 
bume and Feribridge I saw the wooddi and famose forrest of 
Barnesdale, wher thay say that Robyn Hudde lyvid like an 
outlaw " (Itinerary, v. loi). 

'*They haunted about Barnsdale forrest, Compton [r. 
Plompton] parke,t and such other places" (MS. Sloane). 

•* His principal residence," says Fuller, " was in Shirewood 
forrest in this county [Notts], though he had another haunt 
(he is no fox that hath but one hole) near the sea in the 
North Riding in Yorkshire, where Robin Hood's Bay still re- 
taineth his name : not that he was any pirat, but a land-thief, 
who retreated to those unsuspected parts for his security " 
(Worthies of England, p. 320). 

* See Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham, part ii. ballad 2. 

t Plompton Park, upon the banks of the Peterill, in Cumberland, was 
formerly very large, and set apart by the kings of England for the 
keeping of deer. It was disafforested or disparked by Henry VIII. 
See Camden's Britannia, by Bishop Gibson, who seems to confound this 
park with Inglewood forest, a district of sixteen miles in length, reach- 
ing from Carlisle to Penrith, where the kings of England used to hunt, 
and Edward I. is reported to have killed 200 bucks in one day {Ibid.) 


In Thoroton's Nottinghamshire, p. 505, is some account of 
the ancient and present state of Sherwood forest ; but one 
looks in vain through that dry detail of land-owners for any 
particulars relating to our hero. "In anno domini 1194, 
King Richard the First, being a hunting in the forrest of Sher- 
wood, did chase a hart out of the forrest of vSherwood into 
Barnesdale in Yorkshire, and because he could not there 
recover him, he made proclamation at Tickill in Yorkshire, 
and at divers other places there, that no person should kill, 
hurt, or chase the said hart, but that he might safely retorne 
into forrest againe, which hart was after wal-ds called a hart- 
royall proclaimed" (Manwood's Forest Laws, 1598, p. 25, 
from "an auncient recorde " found by him in the tower of 
Nottingham Castle).* 

(8) '■^ Here he either found,'' &'c.'\ After being outlawed, 
Grafton tells us, " for a lewde shift, as his last refuge, [he] 
gathered together a companye of roysters and cutters, and 
practised robberyes and spoyling of the kinges subjects, and 
occupied and frequented the forestes or wild countries." See 
also the following note. 

(9) ^^ Little John, William Scadlock, George a Grceu, 
pinder of Wakefield, Much a viiller's son, and a certain monk 
or frier named Tuck."'\ Of these, the pre-eminence is incon- 
testably due to Little John, whose name is almost constantly 
coupled with that of his gallant leader. " Robertus Hode & 
littill Johanne," are mentioned together by Fordun as early 
as 1341 ; and later instances of the connection would be 
almost endless. After the words, " for debt became an out- 

* Anno 1194] Vicesima nana die mensis martii Richardus rex Angliae 
projectus est videre Clipestone, <5r= forrestas de Sirewode, quas ipse 
nunquani viderat antea : 5^ placuerunt ei mnltuiit, c^ eodetn die rediit 
ad Notingham (R. de Hoveden, Annales, p. 736). 

Drayton (Polyolbion, song 26) introduces Sherwood in the character 
of a nymph, who, out of disdain at tiie preference shown by the poet to 
a sister-forest, 

" All self praise set apart, determineth to sing 
That lusty Robin Hood, who long time like a king 
Within her compass liv'd, and when he list to range, 
For some rich booty set, or else his air to change, 
To Sherwood still retir'd, his only standing court." 



law," the Sloane MS. adds : " then joyninge to him many 
stout fellowes of lyke disposition, amongst whom one called 
Little John was principal or next to him, they haunted about 
Barnsdale forrest," &c. See Notes 39, 40. 

With respect to Frier Tuck, ' * thogh some say he was an 
other kynd of religious man, for that the order of freyrs was 
not yet sprung up " (MS. Sloan,), yet as the Dominican friers 
(or friers preachers) came into England in the year 122 1, up- 
ward of twenty years before the death of Robin Hood, and 
several orders of these religious had flourished abroad for some 
time, there does not seem much weight in that objection : nor, 
in fact, can one pay much regard to the term frier, as it seems 
to have been the common title given by the vulgar (more 
especially after the Reformation) to all the regular clergy, of 
which the friers were at once the lowest and most numerous. 
If Frier Tuck be the same person who, in one of the oldest 
songs, is called the curtail frier of Fountains-dale, he must 
necessarily have been one of the monks of that abbey, which 
was of the Cistercian order. However this may be. Frier 
Tuck is frequently noticed by old writers as one of the com- 
panions of Robin Hood, and as such was an essential cha- 
racter in the morris-dance (see Note 34). He is thus men- 
tioned by Skelton, laureat, in his "goodly interlude" of 
Magnificence, written about the year 1500, and with an evi- 
dent allusion to some game or practice now totally forgotten 
and inexplicable : 

" Another bade shave halfe my berde, 
And boyes to the pylery gan me plucke, 
And wolde have made me freer Tucke, 
To preche oute of the pylery hole." 

In the year 141 7, as Stow relates, "one, by his counterfeite 
name, called Frier Tucke, with manie other malefactors, com- 
mitted many robberies in the counties of Surrey & Sussex, 
whereupon the king sent out his writs for their apprehension " 
(Annales, 1592). 

George a Green is George o' the green, meaning perhaps 
the town-green, in which the pound or pinfold stood of which 
he had the care. He has been particularly celebrated, and 


"As good as George a Green" is still a common saying.* 
Drayton, describing the progress of the river Calder, in the 
West Riding of Yorkshire, has the following lines : 

" It chanc'd she in her course on ' Kirkley ' cast her eye, 
Where merry Robin Hood, that honest thief, doth lie ; 
Beholding fitly too before how Wakefield stood, 
She doth not only think of lusty Robin Hood, 
But of his merry man, the pindar of the town 
Of Wakefield, George a Green, whose fames so far are blown 
For their so valiant fight, that every freeman's song 
Can tell you of the same ; quoth she, be talk'd on long. 
For ye were merry lads, and those were merry days." 

Thus, too, Richard Brathwayte, in his poetical epistle *' to all 
true-bred northerne sparks of the generous society of the Cot- 
toneers" (Strappado for the Divell, 1615) : 

" But haste, my muse, in colours to display 
Some auncieiit customes in their high-roade way, 

At least such places labour to make knowne 
As former times have honour'd with renowne. 

The first whereof that I intend to show 

Is merry Wakefield, and her pindar too. 

Which fame hath blaz'd with all that did belong, 

Unto that towne in many gladsome song, 

The pindar's valour, and how firme he stood 

In th' townes defence 'gainst th' rebel Robin Hood, 

How stoutly he behav'd himselfe, and would, 

In spite of Robin, bring his horse to th' fold, 

His many May-games which were to be seene 

Yearly presented upon Wakefield greene, 

Where lovely J ugge and lustie Tib would go, 

To see Tom-lively turne upon the toe ; 

Hob, Lob, and Crowde the fidler would be there, 

And many more I will not speake of here. 

Good God ! how glad hath been this hart of mine. 

To see that towne, which hath, in former time. 

So flourish'd and so gloried in her name. 

Famous by th' pindar who first rais'd the same ! 

Yea, I have paced ore that greene and ore 

And th' more I saw't I tooke delight the more, 

* It occurs in " Tarlton's Newes out of Purgatory," 1630, 4to (entered 
on the Stationers' books in 1590). 


For where we take contentment in a place, 
A whole dales walke seemes as a cinquepace. 
Yet as there is no solace upon earth 
Which is attended evermore with mirth, 
But when we are transported most with gladnesse, 
Then suddenly our joy's reduc'd to sadnesse ; 
So far'd with me to see the pindar gone, 
And of those jolly laddes that were not one 
Left to survive : I griev'd more then He say : 
(But now for Bradford I must hast away). 

Unto thy task, my muse, and now make knowne 

The jolly shoo-maker of Bradford towne, 

His gentle craft so rais'd in former time 

By princely journey-men his discipline, 

Where he was wont with passengers to quaffe, 

But suffer none to carry up their staffe 

Upon their shoulders, whilst they past through town, 

For if they did he soon would beat them downe ; 

(So valiant was the souter) and from hence v 

Twixt Robin Hood and him grew th' difference ; 

Which, cause it is by most stage-poets writ, 

For brevity I thought good to omit." 

In the latter part of this extract, honest Richard evidently 
alludes to " A pleasant concey ted comedie of George a Greene, 
the pinner of Wakefield ; as it was sundry times acted by the 
servants of the right honourable the earle of Sussex," 1599, 
4to, which has been erroneously ascribed to Heywood the 
epigrammatist, and is reprinted, with other trash, in the late 
edition of Dodsley's Old Plays ; only it unluckily happens 
that Robin Hood is almost the only person who has no dif- 
ference with the souter (or shoemaker) of Bradford. The 
play, in short (or at least that part of it which we have any 
concern with), is founded on the ballad of Robin Hood and 
the Pinder of Wakefield (see part ii. song 3), which it directly 
quotes, and is, in fact, a most despicable performance.* King 
Edward (the Fourth) having taken King James of Scotland 
prisoner, after a most bloody battle near Middleham Castle, 
from which of 30,000 Scots not 5000 had escaped, comes 
with his royal captive in disguise to Bradford, where they 

* It likewise gives the proverb noticed in a preceding page thus : 
"Were he as good as George a Greene, I would strike him sure." 


meet Robin Hood and George a Green, who have just had a 
stout affray : and after having read this, and a great deal 
more such nonsensical stuff, Captain Grose sagaciously " sup- 
poses that this play has little or no foundation in history ; " 
and very gravely sits down and debates his opinion in form. 

"The history of George a Green, pindar of the town of 
Wakefield," 4to, no date,* is a modern production, chiefly 
founded on the old play just mentioned, of neither authority 
nor merit. 

Our gallant pinder is thus facetiously commemorated by 
Drunken Barnaby : 

" Hinc diverso cursu, sero 
Quod audissem de pindero 
Wakefeeldensi ; gloria mundi, 
Ubi socii sunt jucundi, 
Mecum statui peragrare 
Georgii fustem visitare." 

" Turning thence, none could me hinder 
To salute the Wakefield pindar ; 
Who indeed is the world's glory, 
With his comrades never sorry. 
This was the cause, le^t you should miss it, 
George's club I meant to visit." 

" Veni Wakefield peramaenum, 
Ubi quaercns Georgium Greenum, 
Non inveni, sed in lignum 
Fixum reperi Georgii signum, 
Ubi allam bibi feram 
Donee Georgio fortior eram." 

" Strait at Wakefield I was seen a, 
Where I sought for George a Green a ; 
But could find not such a creature. 
Yet on a sign I saw his feature, 
Where strength of ale had so much stir'd me, 
That I grew stouter far than Jordie.'' 

Besides the companions of our hero enumerated in the text, 
and whose names are most celebrated and familiar, we find 
those of William of Goldsbrough (mentioned by Grafton), 
Right-hitting Brand (by Mundy), and Gilbert with the white 

* There is an edition in 1706, 8vo. 


hand, who is thrice named in the Lyttell Geste of Robyn 
Hode (i. 52, 71), and is likewise noticed by Bishop Gawin 
Douglas in his Palice of Honour, printed at Edinburgh in 
1579, but written before 1518 : 

" Thair saw I Maitlaind upon auld Beird Gray, 
Robene Hude, and Gilbert with the quhite hand. 
How Hay of Nauchton slew, in Madin land." * 

As no mention is made of Adam Bell, CUm of the Clough, 
and William of Cloudeslie, either in the ancient legend or in 
more than one of the numerous songs of Robin Hood, nor 
does the name of the latter once occur in the old metrical 
history of those famous archers reprinted in Percy's Eeliques, 
and among pieces of ancient popular poetry, it is to be con- 
cluded that they flourished at different periods, or at least 
had no connection with each other. In a poem, however, 
intitled, " Adam Bell, Glim of the Clough, and young William 
of Gloudesley, the second part," 1616, 4to, b. 1. (Bib. Bod. 
Art. L. 71, being a more modern copy than that in Selden G. 
39, which wants the title, but was probably printed with the 
first part, which it there accompanies, in 1605 ; differing con- 
siderably therefrom in several places, and containing many 
additional verses), are the following lines (not in the former 
copy) : 

"Now beare thy father's heart, my boy, 

Said William of Gloudesley then, 
When i was young i car'd not for 

The brags of sturdiest men. 
The pinder of Wakefield, George a Green, 

I try'd a sommer's day, 
Yet he nor i were victors made 

Nor victor'd went away. 
Old Robin Hood, nor Little John, 

Amongst their merry men all, 
Nor fryer Tuck, so stout and young, 

My courage could appall." 

(10) " MaHan.^^] Who or whatever this lady was, it is 
observable that no mention of her occurs either in the Lytell 
Geste of Robyn Hode, or in any other poem or song con- 

* Scotish Poems, i. 122. 


cerning him, except the not very old ballad of Robin Hood's 
Golden Prize, where she is barely named, and a still more 
modern one of no merit (see part ii. song 24).* She is an 
important character, however, in the two old plays of The 
death and downfall of Robert earl of Huntington, written 
before 1600, and is frequently mentioned by dramatic or 
other writers about that period. Her presence, likewise, 
was considered as essential to the morris-dance. See Note 


In the First Pari of King Henry IV. Falstafif says to the 
hostess, " There's no more faith in thee than in a stew'd 
prune ; nor no more truth in thee than in a drawn fox ; and 
for womanhood. Maid Marian may be the deputy's wife of 
the ward to thee ; " upon which Dr. Johnson observes, that 
" Maid Marian is a man dressed like a woman, who attends 
the dancers of the morris." ** In the ancient songs of Robin 
Hood," says Percy, "frequent mention is made of Maid 
Marian, who appears to have been his concubine. I could 
quote," adds he, "many passages in my old MS. to this 
purpose, but shall produce only one : t 

' Good Robin Hood was living then. 
Which now is quite forgot, 
And so was fayre Maid Marian,' &c." 

Mr. Steevens, too, after citing the old play of ** The down- 
fall of Robert earl of Huntington," 1601, to prove " that Maid 
Marian was originally a name assumed by Matilda, the 
daughter of Robert, Lord Fitzwater, while Robin Hood re- 
mained in a state of outlawry," observes, that "Shakespeare 
speaks of Maid Marian in her degraded state, when she was 

* Surely the " lady " alluded to in the old May-game cannot be our 
Maid Marian. The earliest notice of her occurs in Barclay's Egloges, 
about 1500, where she is evidently connected with Robin Hood. See 
Note 26. 

t Without "the ancient songs," to which the Doctor refers, are con- 
fined to his "old MS.," he evidently asserts what he would probably find 
it difficult to prove. As for the passage he produces, it seems nothing 
to the purpose; as, in the first place, it is apparently not "antient," 
and, in the second, it is apparently not from a "song of Robin Hood." 


represented by a strumpet or a clown ;" and refers to figure 2 
in the plate at the end of the play, with Mr. Toilet's obser- 
vations on it. The widow, in Sir W. Davenant's *' Love and 
Honour," says, " I have been Mistress Marian in a maurice 
ere now ; " and Mr. Wau-ton * quotes an old piece, entitled 
"Old Meg of Herefordshire for a Maid Marian, and Here- 
ford town for a morris-dance : or 12 morris-dancers in Here- 
fordshire of 1200 years old," London, 1609, 4to, which is 
dedicated, he says, to one Hall, a celebrated tabourer in that 
country.f See Note 34. 

(i I ) " His company,''' er'r.] See the entire passage quoted 
from Major in a subsequent note. "By such bootyes as he 
could get," says the writer of the Sloane MS., "his company 
encreast to an hundred and a halfe." 

(12) — ^^ the words of ail old writer "1 The author of the 
Sloane manuscript; which adds: "after such maner he 
procured the pynner of Wakefeyld to become one of his 
company, and a freyr called Muchel [r. Tuck] ... Scarlock 
he induced upon this occasion : one day meeting him as he 
walket solitary & like to a man forlorne, because a mayd to 
whom he was affyanced was taken from [him] by the violence 
of her frends, & given to another that was old & welthy, 
whereupon Robin, understanding when the maryage-day 
should be, came to the church as a begger, & having his own 
company not far of, which came in so soone as they hard 

* Mr. Warton, having observed that "The play of Robin and Marian 
is said to have been performed by the school-boys of Angiers, according 
to annual custom, in the year 1392 : The boys were deguisiez, says the 
old French record ; and they had among them un filletie desguisee 
(Carpent. Du Cange, v. Robinet-Peutecoste)," adds, "Our old charac- 
ter of Mayd Marian maybe hence illustrated" (His. En. po. i. 245). 
This, indeed, seems sufficiently plausible ; but unfoitunately the Robin 
and Marian of Angiers are not the Kobin and Marian of Sherwood. 
The piay is still extant. See Fabliaux ou Contes, Paris, 1781, ii. 144. 
There are, likewise, some very ancient pastoral ballads on the subject 
of these two lovers. See La Borde, Essai sur la Mitsique, ii. 163, 215. 
But, in fact, the names of Robin and Marion seem to have been used 
by the chansonniers of antiquity like those of Colin and Pkcebe, &c. 

t In 1592, Richard Jones, stationer, entered on the Company's books, 
♦* A plesant fancie, or merrie conceyt, called the passion et morrys, 
daunst by a crue of 8 couple of wores. 


the sound of his home, he tooke the bryde perforce from him 
that [bare] in hand to have marryed her, & caused the preist 
to wed her & Scarlocke togeyther." (See part ii. song 8.) 
This MS., of which great part is merely the old legend or 
Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode turned into prose, appears to 
have been written before the year 1600. 

{iTf) ^^ In shooting " ^^c."] MS. Sloan. Grafton also speaks 
of our hero's "excellyng principally in archery or shooting, 
his manly courage agreeyng thereunto." 

Their archery, indeed, was unparalleled, as both Robin 
Hood and Little John have frequently shot an arrow a mea- 
sured mile, or 1760 yards, which it is supposed no one, 
either before or since, was ever able to do. " Tradition," 
says Master Charlton, "informs us that in one of 'Robin 
Hood's ' peregrinations, he, attended by his trusty mate Little 
John, went todine [at Whitby Abbey] with the abbot Richard, 
who, having heard them often famed for their great dexterity 
in shooting with the long bow, begged them after dinner to 
shew him a specimen thereof; when, to oblige the abbot, 
they went up to the top of the abbey, whence each of them 
shot an arrow, which fell not far from Whitby-Iaths, but on 
the contrary side of the lane ; and in memorial thereof, a 
pillar was set up by the abbot in the place where each of the 
arrows was found, which are yet standing in these our days ; 
that field where the pillar for Robin Hood's arrow stands 
being still called Robin Hood's field, and the other where 
the pillar for Little John's arrow is placed, still preserving 
the name of John's field. Their distance from Whitby Abbey 
is more than a measured mile, which seems very far for the 
flight of an arrow, and is a circumstance tliat will stagger 
the faith of many ; but as to the credibility of the story, 
every reader may judge thereof as he .thinks proper; only I 
must here beg leave to observe that these very pillars are 
mentioned, and the fields called by the aforesaid names, in 
the old deeds for that ground, now in the possession of Mr. 
Thomas Watson" (History of Whitby, York, 1779, p. 146).* 

* *' The quarry from whence King Wolfere fetched stones for his royal 
structure [_t.e. Peterborou2;h] was undoubtedly that of Bernach near unto 
Stamford .... And I find in the charter of K. Edward the Confessor, 


Dr. Meredith Hanmer, in his Chronicle of Ireland (p. 
179), speaking of Little John, says, " There are memorable 
acts reported of him, which I hold not for truth, that he 
would shoot an arrow a mile off and a great deale more ; 
but them," adds he, "I leave among the lyes of the land."* 
See Note 39. 

which he granted to the abbot of Ramsey, that the abbot of Ramsey 
should give to the abbot and convent of Peterburgh 4000 eeles in the 
time of Lent, and in consideration thereof the abbot of Peterburgh should 
give to the abbot of Ramsey as much freestone from his pitts in Bernack, 
and as much ragstone from his pitts in Peterburgh as he should need. 
Nor did the abbot of Peterburgh from these pits furnish only that but 
other abbies also, as that of St. Edmunds-Bury : in memory whereof 
there are two long stones yet standing upon a balk in Castor-field, near 
unto Gunwade-ferry ; which erroneous tradition hath given out to be 
draughts of arrows from Alwalton churchyard thither ; the one of Robin 
Hood, and the other of Little John ; but the truth is, they were set up 
for witnesses, that the carriages of stone from Bernack to Gunwade-ferry, 
to be conveyed to S. Edmunds-Bury, might pass that way without paying 
toll ; and in some old terrars they are called S. Edmund's stones. These 
stones are nicked in their tops after the manner of arrows, probably 
enough in memory of S. Edmund, who was shot to death with arrows by 
the Danes " (Gunton's History of the Church of Peterburgh, 1686, p. 4). 

* "In this relation," Mr. Walker observes, "the Doctor not only 
evinces his credulity, but displays his ignorance of archery ; for the in- 
genious and learned Mr. Barrington, than whom no man can be better 
informed on the subject, thinks that eleven score and seven yards is the 
utmost extent that an arrow can be shot from a long bow " (Archaeo- 
logia, vol. viii.) According to tradition, he adds, Little John shot an 
arrow from the Old-bridge, Dublin, to the present site of St. Michael's 
church, a distance not exceeding, he believes, that mentioned by Mr. 
Barrington (Historical Essay on the Dress of the Ancient and Modern 
Irish, p. 129). 

What Mr. Barrington "thinks" may be true enough, perhaps, of the 
Toxophilite Society and other modern archers; but people should not 
talk of Robin Hood who never shot in his bow. The above ingenious 
writer's censure of Dr. Hanmer's credulity and ignorance, seems to be 
misapplied, since he cannot be supposed to believe what he holds not 
for truth, and actually leaves among the lyes of the land. 

See also the old song, printed in the Appendix, No. 3. Drayton, who 
wrote before aichery had fallen into complete disuse, says — 

"At marks full forty score they us'd to prick and rove." 

That Mr. Barrington, indeed, was very ill informed on the subject is 
evident from a most scarce book in the editor's possession, intitled 
" Aime for the archers of St. George's fields, containing the names of 


(14) ''An outlaw, in those times, being deprived of pro- 
tection, owed no allegiance,'^ dr^cJ] Such a character was, 
doubtless, at the period treated of, in a very critical situation ; 
it being equally as legal and meritorious to hunt down and 
dispatch him as it was to kill a wolf, the head of which 
animal he was said to bear. "Item foris facit," says Brac- 
ton (who wrote about the time), " omnia que pacls sunt, quia 
a tempore quo utlagatus est caput gerit lupinum, ita ut im- 
pune ab omnibus interfici possit " (1. 2, c. 35). In the great 
roll of the exchequer, in the 7th year of King Richard L, is 
an allowance by writ of two marks to Thomas de Prest- 
wude, for bringing to Westminster the head of William de 
EUeford, an outlaw. (See Madox's History of the Exche- 
quer, 136.) Those who received or consorted with a person 
outlawed were subject to the same punishment. Such was 
the humane policy ofour enlightened ancestors! See Note 21. 


" how 

. . . , they cojild discourse 
The freezing hours away ! "] 

(Cymbeline, act iii. scene 3V The chief subjects of our hero's 
conversation are supposed, by a poetical genius of the i6th 

all the marks in the same fields, with their true distances according to 
the dimensuration of the line. Formerly gathered by Richard Hannis, 
and now corrected by Thomas Bick and others. ; London, Primed by 
N. Howell for Robert Minehard and Benjamin Brownsmith, and are to 
be sold at the sign of the man in the moon in Blackman street, 1664,'' 
i6mo, where the distance from Alphato Bick's memorial \s 18 score 16 
yards; and 11 score 7 yards (though there are inferior numbers, the 
lowest being 9, 12) appears to be a very moderate shot indeed. Two of 
these marks are Robin Hood a.nd Little John. See also Shakespeare's 
Second Part of K. Henry IV. , act iii. scene 2, where it is said that Old 
Double "would have clapp'd i' the clout at twelve score ; and carry 'd you 
a forehand shaft 2l fourteen zxvdifourteen and a half ; " and the notes upon 
the passage in Steevens's edition, 1793. It is probable, after ail, that the 
word forty in Drayton is an error, of the transcriber or pressman, for 

Whatever Robin Hood's'father might do, there can be no question that 
the author of the old ballad in which he is mentioned (part ii. song i) 
has " shot in a lusty strong bow " when he speaks of 

"Two north-country miles and an inch at a shot." 


century, to have been the commendation of a forest-life and 
the ingratitude of mankind. 

" I have no tales of Robin Hood, though mal-content was he 
In better daies, first Richard's daies, and liv'd in woods as we 
A Tymon of the world ; but not devoutly was he soe, 
And therefore praise I not the man : but for from him did groe 
Words worth the note, a word or twaine of him ere hence we goe. 

Those daies begot some nial-contents, the principall of whome 
A county was, that with a troope of yomandry did rome, 
l^>rave archers and deliver men, since nor before so good, 
Those took from rich to give the poore, and manned Robin Hood. 
He fed them well, and lodg'd them safe in pleasant caves and bowers, 
Oft saying to his merry men, What juster life than ours ? 
Here use we tallents that abroad the churles abuse or hide, 
Their coflfers' excrements, and yeat for common wants denide. 
We might have sterved for their store, & they have dyc'st our bones. 
Whose tongues, driftes, harts, intice, meane, melt, as syrens, foxes, stones, 
Yea even the best that betterd them heard but aloofe our mones. 
And redily the churles could prie and prate of our amis. 
Forgetful! of their owne. . . . 

I did amis, not missing friends that wisht me to amend : 
I did amend, but missed friends when mine amis had end : 
My friends therefore shall finde me true, but I will trust no frend. 
Not one I knewe that wisht me ill, nor any workt me well, 
To lose, lacke, live, time, frends, in yncke, an hell, an hell, an hell ! 
Then happie we (quoth Robin Hood) in merry Sherwood that dwell."* 

It has been conjectured, however, that, in the winter sea- 
son, our hero and his companions severally quartered them- 
selves in villages or country-houses more or less remote, with 
persons of whose fidelity they were assured. It is not im- 
probable, at the same time, that they might have tolerably 
comfortable habitations erected in the woods. 

Archery, which our hero and his companions appear to 
have carried to a state of perfection, continued to be cultivated 
for some ages after their time, down, indeed, to that of Henry 
VIII., or about the year 1540, when, owing to the introduc- 
tion of artillery and matchlock-guns, it became neglected, 
and the bowmen of Cressy and Agincourt utterly extinct ; 
though it may be still a question whether a body of expert 
archers would not, even at this day, be superior to an equal 

* Warner's Albion's England, 1602, p. 132. It is part of the hermit's 
speech to the Earl of Lancaster. 


number armed with muskets.* The loss sustained from 
this change by the people at large seems irreparable. An- 
ciently, the use of the bow or bill qualified every man for a 
soldier ; and a body of peasants, led on by a Tyler or a Cade, 
was not less formidable than any military force that could be 
raised to oppose them : by which means the people from 
time to time preserved the very little liberty they had, and 
which their tyrants were constantly endeavouring to wrest 
from them. See how the case stands at present : the sovereign, 
let him be who or what he will (kings have been tyrants, and 
may be so again), has a standing army, well disciplined and 
accoutred, while the subjects or people are absolutely de- 
fenceless : as much care having been taken, particularly since 
"the glorious revolution," to deprive them of arms as was 
formerly bestowed to enforce their use and practice.t The 
following extract from Hale's Historia Placitorum Coronoe 
(i. Ii8) will serve to show how familiar the bow and arrow 
was in the 14th century : — "M. 22. E. 3. Rot. 117. coram 
rege Ebor. This was the case of Henry Vescy, who had 
been indicted before the sheriff in turno suo ... of divers 
felonies, whereupon the sheriff mandavit commissionem suam 
Henrico de Clyderawe & aliis ad capiendum prsedictum H. 
Vescy, & salvo ducendum usque castrum de Ebor." Vescy 
would not submit to an arrest, but fled, and inter fugiendum 
shot with his bow and arrows at his pursuers, but in the end 
was killed by Clyderawe : to which may be added a remark- 
able passage in Hanson's *' Description of England " (pre- 
fixed to Holinshed's Chronicle, 1587), to prove how much it 
had declined in the i6th. '* In times past," says he, "the 

* Sir Roger Williams, in his Briefe discourse qfwarre, 1590, has a 
chapter " To prooue bow-men the worst shot vsed in these daies." Sir 
John Smythe, however, was of a different opinion. See his " Discourses 
concerning the formes and effects of divers sorts of weapons, &c. As 
also, of the great sufficiencie, excellencie, and wonderful effects of 
archers," 1590, 410. See also a different treatise by him upon the same 
subject in Num. 132 of the Harleian MSS. 

t " A prince who fills the throne with a disputed title dares not arm 
his subjects, the only method of securing a people fully both against 
domestic oppression and foreign conquest " (Hume's Essays, "Of the 
Protestant Succession ";. 


cheefe force of England consisted in their long bowes. But 
now we have in maner generallie given over that kind of 
artillerie, and for long bowes in deed doo practise to shoot 
compasse for our pastime ; which kind of shooting can never 
yeeld anie smart stroke, nor beat down our enemies, as our 
countrymen were woont to doo at everie time of need. 
Certes the Frenchmen and Rutters,* deriding our new 
archerie in respect of their corslets, will not let, in open 
skirmish, if anie leisure serve, to turne up their tailes, and 
crie, Shoote, English ; and all because our strong shooting is 
decaied and laid in bed. But if some of our Englishmen 
now lived that served King Edward the Third in his warres 
•with France, the breech + of such a varlet should have beene 
nailed to his bum with one arrow, and an other fethered in 
his bowels, before he should have turned about to see who 
shot the first " (p. 198). Bishop Latimer, in his sixth sermon 
before King Edward VI., gives an interesting account how the 
sons of yeomen were, in his infancy, trained up to the bow. 
** But now," says he, " we have taken up whooring in townes, 
instead of shooting in the fieldes." 


"All clad in Lincoln green."'\ 

This species of cloth is mentioned by Spenser (Faerie Queene, 

VI. ii. 5) : 

•» All in a woodman's jacket he was clad 
Of Lincolne greene, belay 'd with silver lace 
And on his head an hood with aglets sprad, 
And by his side his hunter's home he hanging had." 

It i& likewise noticed by our poet himself, in another place : 

*• Swains in shepherds gray, and gyrles in Lincolne greene." t 

See Polyolbion, song xxv., where the marginal note says, 
" Lincolne anciently dyed the best green in England." Thus 
Coventry had formerly the reputation of dying the best blue. 

* Flemings, 
t Breeches. 
% Thus also in part ii. ballad i : 

*• She got on her holyday kirtle and gown 
They were of a light Lincolne green." 


See Ray's Proverbs, p. 178. Kendal green is equally famous, 
and appears to have been cloth of a similar quality. This 
colour was adopted by foresters to prevent their being too 
readily discovered by the deer. See Sir John Wynne's His- 
tory of the Guedir Family (Barrington's Miscellanies), p. 419. 
Thus the Scotish Highlanders used to wear brown plaids to 
prevent their being distinguished among the heath. It is 
needless to observe that green has ever been the favourite 
dress of an archer, hunter, &c. See Note 34.* We now 
call it a Saxon or grass green : 

■f " His coat is of a Saxon green, his waistcoat's of a plaid " (O. song). 
Lincoln green was well known in France in or before 
the 13th century. Thus, in an old fabliau, transprosed by 
M. Le Grand (Fabliaux ou Contes, iv. 13), "II mit done 
son surcot fourre d'ecureuil, et sa belle robe d'Estanfort teinte 
en verd." Estanfort is Stamford, in Lincolnshire. t This 
cloth is, likewise, often mentioned by the old Scotish poets 
under the names of Lincum licht, Lincum twyne, &c., and 
appears to have been in universal request : and yet, notwith- 
standing this cloud of evidence, Mr. Pinkerton has had the 
confidence to assert that "no particular cloth was ever made 
at Lincoln." (See Ancient Scotish Poems, ii. 430.) But, 
indeed, this worthy gentleman, as Johnson said of Goldsmith, 
only stumbles upon truth by accident. 

* In the sign of The green man and still, we perceive a huntsman in 
a green coat standing: by the side of a still ; in allusion, as it has been 
facetiously conjectured, to the partiality shown by that description of 
gentry to a morning dram. The genuine representation, however, should 
be the green-man (or man who deals in green herbs) with a bundle of 
peppermint or penny-royal under his arm, which he brings to have 

"And farewell all gaie garments now, 
With jewels riche of rare devise : 
Like Robin Hood, I wot not how, 
^ I must goe raunge in woodmen's wyse, 

Cladde in a cote of greene or gray, 
And gladde to get it if i maye." 
The workes of a young wyt, Done by N. B. Gent. 1577, 410, b. 1. 
t There appears, however, to be a town of this name in Flanders, which 
may be the place here meant. The above conjecture, therefore, will be 
received for no more than it is worth. 



'■'■From wealthy abbots chests" &'c.\ 

** But who," exclaims Dr. Fuller, having cited this passage, 
"made him a judge? or gave him a commission to take 
where it might be best spared, and give where it was most 
wanted ? " That same power, one may answer, which au- 
thorises kings to take where it can be worst spared, and give 
it where it is least wanted. Our hero, in this respect, was a 
knight-errant ; and wanted no other commission than that 
of Justice, whose cause he militated. His power, compared 
with that of the king of England, was by no means either 
equally usurped or equally abused : the one reigned over 
subjects (or slaves) as a master (or tyrant), the other possessed 
no authority but what was delegated to him by the free suf- 
frage of his adherents, for their general good : and as for the 
rest, it would be absurd to blame in Robin what we should 
praise in Richard.* The latter, too, warred in remote parts 
of the world against nations from which neither he nor his 
subjects had sustained any injury ; the former at home against 
those to whose wealth, avarice, or ambition he might fairly 
attribute not only his own misfortunes, but the misery of the 
oppressed and enslaved society he had quitted. In a word, 
every man who has the power has also the authority to pursue 
the ends of justice, to regulate the gifts of fortune, by trans- 
ferring the superfluities of the rich to the necessities of the 
poor ; by relieving the oppressed, and even, when necessary, 
destroying the oppressor. These are the objects of the social 
union, and every individual may, and to the utmost of his 
power should, endeavour to promote them. Had our Robin 
Hood been, like M 'Donald of Barrisdale, a reader of Virgil, 
he, as well as that gallant chief, might have inscribed on his 
baldric — 

* When Bulas, or Felix, the robber, was brought before Papinian, the# 
latter asked him why he gave himself up to robbing and spoiling : "And 
why, sir," was the answer, " are you *a governor ' ?" See Dio Cassius 
in Severus. 

" Because I do that," said the pirate to Alexander, " with a single 
ship which thou dost with a great fleet, I am called a thief, and thou art 
called a king." 


•' Hae tibi erunt artes ; pacis componere mores, 
Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos."* 

(18) ^^ But it is to be remembered^'''' dr'r.] The passage 
from Major's work, which has been already quoted, is here 
given entire (except as to a single sentence introduced in 
another place). '* Circa hsec tempora [s. Ricardi L] ut 
auguror, Robertus Hudus & Parvus Joannes latrones fama- 
tissimi, in nemoribus latuerunt, solum opulentum virorum 
bona diripientes. Nullum nisi eos invadentem vel resistentem 
pro suarum rerum tuitione occiderunt. Centum sagittarios 
ad pugnam aptissimos Robertus latrociniis aluit quos 400 
viri fortissimi invadere non audebant. Faeminam nullum 
opprimi permisit, nee pauperum bona surripuit, verum eos 
ex abbatum bonis ablatis opipare pavit. Viri rapinam im- 
probo sed latronum omnium humanissimus & princeps erat " 
(Majoris Britannise Historia, Edin. 1740, p. 128). 

Stowe, in his Annales, 1592, p. 227, gives an almost 
literal version of the above passage ; Richard Robinson ver- 
sifies it ; t and Camden slightly refers to it. 

* See Pennant's Tour in Scotland M DCCLXXII. part i. p. 404. The 
original reading, whether altered by mistake or design, is — 

" — pacisque imponere morem." 
One might, to the same purpose, address our hero in the words of 
Plautus (Trinummus, act iv. scene i) : 

" Atque hanc tuam gloriam jam ante auribus acceperam, et nobiles apud 
Pauperibus te parcere solitum, divites damnare atque domare. 
Abi, laudo, scis ordine, ut aequom'sf, 
Tractare homines, hoc dis dignum'st, semper mendicis modesti sint." 

" I've heard before 

This commendation of you, and from great ones. 
That you were wont to spare the indigent. 
And crush the wealthy. — I applaud your justice 
In treating men according to their merits.— 
'Tis worthy of the gods to have respect 
Unto the poor." 

t " Richard Coeur de Lyon cald a king and conquerour was, 

With Phillip king of France who did unto Jerusalemm passe : 

In this king's time was Robyn Hood, that archer and outlawe, 
And little John his partener eke, unto them which did draws 


(19) — '■'■has had the honour to he compared to the illus- 
trious Wallace" 6-=^.] In the first volume of Peck's intended 
supplement to the Monasticon, consisting of collections for 
the history of Prsemonstratensian monasteries, now in the 
British Museum, is a very curious riming Latin poem with 
the following title: "Prioris Alnwicensis de bello Scotico 
apud Dumbarr, tempore rigis Edwardi I. dictamen sive 
rithmus Latinus, quo de Willielmo Wallace Scotico illo 
Robin Whood, plura sed invidiose canit ; " and in the margin 
are the following date and reference : — "22. Julii 1304. 32. 
E. I. Regist. Prem. fol. 59. a." This, it maybe observed, is 
the first known instance of our hero's name being mentioned 
by any writer whatever ; and affords a strong and respectable 
proof of his early popularity. 

(20) " The abbot of St. Mar/s in York.''] " In the year 
1088, Alan, Earl of Richmond, founded here a stately abbey 
for black monks to the honour of St. Olave ; but it was after- 
wards dedicated to the Blessed Virgin by the command of 
king William Rufus. Its yearly revenues at the suppression 
amounted to ;^i55o, ys. gd. Dugd., ;^2850, i^. ^d. Speed" 
(Willis's Mitred Abbeys, i. 214). The abbots in our hero's 
time were — 

Robert de Harpsham (el. 1 184), ob. 1 198. 
Robert de Longo Campo, ob. 1239. 
William Rondele, ob. 1244. 
Tho. de Wharterhille, ob. 1258. 

(21) — ''the sheriff of Nottinghamshirer'\ Ralph Murdach 
was sheriff of Derby and Nottinghamshires in the first year 
of King Richard I., and for the seven years preceding, and 
William Brewerre in his sixth year, between which and the first 
no name appears on the roll. See Fuller's Worthies, &c. 
In the year 1195, Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, jus- 
One hondred tall and good archers, on whom foure hondred men, 
Were their power never so strong, could not give onset then ; 
The al bois, monkes, and carles rich these oncly did molest, 
And reskewd woemen when they saw of thecves them so opprest ; 
Restoring poore men's goods, and eke abundantly releeved 
Poore travellers which wanted food, or were with sicknes greeved." 
( 1 hird Assertion, &c., quoted elsewhere.) 


ticiary of all England, sent throughout the kingdom this form 
of oath : that all men of the realm of England would keep 
the peace of the lord the king to their power ; and that they 
would neither be thieves nor robbers, nor the receivers of 
such, nor consent to them in anything ; and that when they 
were able to know such-like malefactors, they would take 
them to the utmost of their power, and deliver them to the 
sheriff; who in no wise should be delivered unless by the lord 
the king or his chief justice ; and if unable to take them, 
they should cause the bailiffs of the lord the king to know who 
they were : and, cry being raised for pursuing outlaws, rob- 
bers, thieves, or their receivers, all should fully do that suit to 
the utmost of their power, (S:c. Knights were to be assigned 
for these purposes, and men chosen and faithful were sent to 
execute them in every county, who by the oath of true men 
of the vicinages took many and put them in the king's prisons ; 
but many, being forewarned, and conscious of evil, left their 
houses and possessions and fled (A*, de Haveden, p. 757). 

(22) — " an aiiecdote preserved by Fordun, " 6^r.] ' ' De quo 
eciam quaedam commendabilia recitantur, sicut patuit in hoc, 
quod cum ipse quondam in Barnisdale iram [f. ob iram] 
regis & fremitum principis, missam, ut solitus erat, devotissime 
audiret, nee aliqua necessitate volebat interrumpere officium, 
quadam die cum audiret missam, h. quodam vicecomite «& 
ministris regis, ssepius per prius ipsum infestantibus, in illo 
secretissimo loco nemorali, ubi missse interfuit, exploratus, 
venientes ad eum qui de suis hoc perceperunt, ut ouini 
annisu fugeret suggesserunt, qui, ob reverentiam sacramenti, 
quod tunc devotissime venerabatur, omnino facere recusa\fit. 
Sad ceteris suis, ob metum mortis trepidantibus, Robertus 
tantum confisus in eum, quern coluit reveritus, cum paucis- 
simis, qui tunc forte ei affuerunt, inimicos congressus & eos 
de facili devicit, et de eorum spoliis ac redemptione ditatus, 
ministros ecclesiae & missas semper in majori veneratione 
semper & de post habere praeelegit, attendens quod wlgariter 
dictum est : 

Hunc deus exaudit, qui missam saepius audit." 

J. De Fordun Scotichronicon, a Hearne, Ox. 1722, p. 774. 


This passage is found in no other copy of Fordun's Chronicle 
than one in the Harleian Library. Its suppression in all the 
rest may be fairly accounted for on the principle which is 
presumed to have influenced the conduct of the ancient Eng- 
lish historians. See Note i. 

(23) — "a proclamation was published,^' 6^c.] "The king 
att last," says the Harleian MS., "sett furth a proclamation to 
have him apprehended," &c. Grafton, after having told us 
that he *' practised robberyes," &c., adds, " The which beyng 
certefyed to the king, and he beyng greatly offended there- 
with, caused his proclamation to be made that whosoever 
would bryng him quicke or dead, the king would geve him a 
great summe of money, as by the recordes in the Exchequer 
is to be scene : But of this promise no man enjoyed any 
benefite. For the sayd Robert Hood, being afterwardes 
troubled with sicknesse," &c. (p. 85.) See Note 14. 

(24) ^'' At length the infirmities of old age increasing upon 
him" &'€.'] Thus Grafton : " The sayd Robert Hood, beyng 
troubled with sicknesse, came to a certain nonry in York- 
shire called Bircklies [r. Kircklies], where desiryng to be let 
blood, he was betrayed and bled to death." The Sloane 
MS. says that " [Being] dystempered with could and age, 
he had great payne in his lymmes, his bloud being corrupted, 
therefore to be eased of his payne by letting bloud, he repayred 
to the priores of Kyrkesly, which some say was his aunt, a 
woman very skylful in physique & surgery ; who, perceyving 
him to be Robyn Hood, & waying howe fel an enimy he 
was to religious persons, toke reveng of him for her owne 
howse and all others by letting him bleed to death. It is 
also sayd that one Sir Roger of Doncaster, bearing grudge to 
Robyn for some injury, incyted the priores, with whome he 
was very familiar, in such a maner to dispatch him." See 
the Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode, ad finem. The Harleian 
MS., after mentioning the proclamation "sett furth to have 
him apprehended," adds, " At which time it happened he fell 
sick at a nunnery in Yorkshire called Birkleys [r. Kirkleys] ; 
& desiring there to be let blood, hee was betrayed & made 
bleed to death." 

Kirkleys, Kirklees, or Kirkleghes, formerly Kuthale, in the 


deanery of Pontefract, and archdeaconry of the West Riding of 
Yorkshire, was a Cistercian, or, as some say, a Benedictine 
nunnery, founded, in honour of the Virgin Mary and St. 
James, by Reynerus Flandrensis in the reign of King Henry 
II. Its revenues at the dissohition were somewhat about 
;/^20, and the site was granted (36 Hen. 8.) to John Tasburgh 
and Henry Savill, from whom it came to one of the ancestors 
of Sir George Armytage, Bart., the present possessor. The 
remains of the building (if any) are very inconsiderable, and 
its register has been searched after in vain. See Tanner's 
Notitia, p. 674. Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis, p. 91. 
Hearne's " Account of Several Antiquities in and about the 
University of Oxford," at the end of Leland's Itinerary, vol. 
ii. p. 128. 

In 1706 was discovered, among the ruins of the nunnery, 
the monument of Elisabeth de Staynton, prioress ; but it is , 
not certain that this was the lady from whom our hero ex- 
perienced such kind assistance. See Thoresby and Hearne 
ubi supra. 

"One may wonder," says Dr, Fuller, " how he escaped 
the hand of justice, dying in his bed, for ought is found to the 
contrary ; but it was because he was rather a merry than a 
mischievous thief (complementing passengers out of their 
purses), never murdering any but deer, and . . . . ' feasting ' 
the vicinage with his vension " (Worthies, p. 320). See the 
following note. 

(25) " He loas mterred wider some trees at a short distance 
from the house ; a stone being placed over his grave with an in- 
scription to his jnemory.''] "Kirkley monasterium monialium, 
ubi Ro: Hood nobilis ille exlex sepultus" (Leland's Collec- 
tanea, i. 54). " Kirkleys Nunnery, in the Woods, whereof 
Robin Hood's grave is, is between Halifax and Wakefield 
upon Calder" (Letter from Jo. Savile to W. Camden, Illus. 
viro epis. 1691). 

" as Caldor comes along, 

It chanced she in her course on ' Kirkley ' cast her eye. 
Where merry Robin Hood, that honest thief, doth lie." 

(Polyolbion, song 28.) 

See also Camden's Britannia, 1695, P- 709- 


In the second volume of Dr. Stukeley's Itinerarium Curio- 
sum is an engraving of "the prospect of Kirkley's abby, where 
Robin Hood dyed, from the footway leading to Heartishead 
church, at a quarter of a mile distance. A. The New Hall. 
B. The Gatehouse of the Nunnery. C. The trees among 
which Robin Hood was buryed. D. The way up the Hill 
were this was drawn. E. Bradley wood. F. Almondbury 
hill. G. Castle field. Drawn by Dr. Johnston among his 
Yorkshire Antiquitys, p. 54 of the drawings. E. Kirkall, 
sculp." It makes plate 99 of the above work, but is un- 
noticed in the letterpress. 

According to the Sloane MS., the prioress, after " letting 
him bleed to death, buryed him under a great stone by the 
hy wayes syde ;" which is agreeable to the account in Grafton's 
Chronicle, where it is said that, after his death, "the prioresse 
of the same place caused him to be buried by the highway- 
side, where he had used to rob and spoyle those that passed 
that way. And vpon his grave the sayde prioresse did lay a 
very fayre stone, wherein the names of Robert Hood, "William 
of Goldesborough, and others were graven. And the cause 
why she bui yed him there was, for that the common passen- 
gers and travailers, knowyng and seeyng him there buryed, 
might more safely and without feare take their jorneys 
that way, which they durst not do in the life of the sayd 
outlawes. And at eyther ende of the sayde tombe was 
erected a crosse of stone, which is to be scene there at this 

" Near unto * Kirklees ' the noted Robin Hood lies buried 
under a grave-stone that yet remains near the park, but the 
inscription scarce legible " (Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis, 
fo. 1715, p. 91). In the Appendix, p. 576, is the following 
note, with a reference to "page 91 :" — 

" Amongst the papers of the learned Dr. Gale, late dean 
of Yorke, was found this epitaph of Robin Hood : 

l^car untJerneali liis laitl steatt 
laij ro&ert carl of l^uutiugtun 
nca arcir bcr aj 'i)ic sa gcuti 
aiT pipl feaulu im robin tniU 


sick titlaioj a| \)i an if men 
bil cnglanti nibr si agm. 

obiit 24 [r. 14] ital ticltnnbris 1247." 

The genuineness of this epitaph has been questioned. Dr. 
Percy, in the first edition of his " Reliques of Ancient Eng- 
lish Poetry" (1765), says "It must be confessed this epi- 
taph is suspicious, because in the most ancient poems of 
Robin Hood there is no mention of this imaginary earldom." 
This reason, however, is by no means conclusive, the most 
ancient poem now extant having no pretension to the anti- 
quity claimed by the epitaph : and indeed the Doctor himself 
should seem to have afterward had less confidence in it, as, 
in both the subsequent editions, those words are omitted, 
and the learned critic merely observes that the epitaph ap- 
pears to him suspicious. It will be admitted that the bare 
suspicion of this ingenious writer, whose knowledge and 
judgment of ancient poetry are so conspicuous and eminent, 
ought to have considerable weight. As for the present 
editor's part, though he does not pretend to say that the lan- 
guage of this epitaph is that of Plenry the Third's time, nor 
indeed to determine of what age it is, he can perceive nothing 
in it from whence one should be led to pronounce it spurious, 
z.e. that it was never inscribed on the grave-stone of Robin 
Hood. That there actually was some inscription upon it 
in Thoresby's time, though then scarce legible, is evident 
from his own words : and it should be remembered as well 
tliat the last century was not the era of imposition, as that 
Dr. Gale was both too good and too learned a man either to 
be capable of it himself or to be liable to it from others. 

That industrious chronologist and topographer, as well as 
respectable artist and citizen, master Thomas Gent, of Yoik, 
in his "List of religious houses," annexed to "The ancient 
and modern state of" that famous city, 1730, i2mo, p. 234, 
informs us that he had been told "that his [Robin Hood's] 
tombstone, having his effigy thereon, was order'd, not many 
years ago, by a certain knight to be placed as a harth-stone 
in his great hall. When it was laid overnight, the next morn- 
ing it was ' surprizingly ' removed [on or to] one side ; and 


so three times it was laid, and as successively turned aside. 
The knight, thinking he had done wrong to have brought it 
thither, order'd it should be drawn back again ; which was 
performed by a pair of oxen and four horses, when twice the 
number could scarce do it before. But as this," adds the 
sagacious writer, "is a story only, it is left to the reader to 
judge at pleasure." N.B. — This is the second instance of a 
miracle wrought in favour of our hero ! 

In Gough's Sepulchral Monuments, p. cviii., is " the figure 
of the stone over the grave of Robin Hood [in Kirklees park, 
being a plain stone with a sort of cross fleuree thereon], now 
broken and much defaced, the inscription illegible. That 
printed in Thoresby, Ducat. Leod. 576, from Dr. Gale's 
papers, was never on it.* The late Sir Samuel Armitage 
owner of the premises, caused the ground under it to be dug 
a yard deep, and found it had never been disturbed ; so 
that it was probably brought from some other place, and by 
vulgar tradition ascribed to Robin Hood " (refers to " Mr. 
Watson's letter in Antiquary Society minutes"). This is pro- 
bably the tomb-stone of Elizabeth de Staynton, mentioned in 
the preceding note. 

The old epitaph is, by some anonymous hand, in a work 
entitled " Sepulchrorum inscriptiones ; or a curious collection 
of 900 of the most remarkable epitaphs," Westminster, 1727 
(vol. ii. p. 73), thus not inelegantly paraphrased : 
" Here, underneath this little stone, 

Thro' Death's assaults, now lieth one, 

Known by the name of Robin Hood, 

Who was a thief, and archer good ; 

Full thirteen years, and something more, 

He robb'd the rich to feed the poor : 

* That this epitaph had been printed, or was well known, at least, 
long before the publication of Mr. Thoresby 's book, if not before either 
he or Dr. Gale was born, appears from the " True Tale of Robin Hood " 
by Martin Parker, written, if not printed, as early as 1631. (See posty 
p. 126.) That dates, about this period, were frequently by ides and 
kalends, see Madox's Formulare Anglkanum (Dissertation), p. xxx. 
Even Arabic figures are produced in some of still greater antiquity ; see 
Collectanea de rebus Hibemicis, ii. 331. Robert Grosthead, Bishop of 
Lincoln, makes use of these figures about the year 1240. Astle's Origin 
of Writing, ^.\Z%. 


Therefore, his grave bedew with tears. 
And offer for his soul your prayers." * 

(26) — ^^ various dramatic exhibitions. ''''\ The earliest of 
these performances now extant is " The playe of Robyn 
Hode, very proper to be played in Maye games," which is 
inserted in the Appendix to this work, and may probably be 
as old as the 15th century. That a different play, however, 
on the same subject has formerly existed, seems pretty certain 
from a somewhat curious passage in ** Tlie famous chronicle 
of king Edward the first, sirnamed Edward Longshankes, " 
&c., by George Peele, printed in 1593. 

" LIuellen weele get the next daie from Brecknocke the booke 

of Robin Hood, the frier he shall instruct us in his cause, and weele 
even here . . . wander like irregulers up and down the wildernesse, ile 
be maister of misrule, ile be Robin Hood that once, cousin ' Rice,' thou 
shalt be little John, and hers frier David, as fit as a die for frier Tucke. 
Now, my sweet Nel, if you will make up the messe with a good heart 
for maide Marian, and doe well with LIuellen under the grecn-woode 
trees, with as good a wil as in the good townes, why plena est curia. 

Enter Mortimor, solus. 

Mortimor Maisters, have after gentle Robin Hood, 

You are not so well accompanied I hope, 
But if a potter come to plaie his part, 

Youle give him stripes or welcome good or worse. ^Exit. 

Enter LIuellen, Meredith, frier, Elinor, and their traine. They are all 
clad in greene, &"€. sing', dr'c. Blyth and bonny, the song ended, 
LIuellen speaketh. 

Luellen. Why so, I see, my mates of olde, 
All were nor lies that Bedlams [beldams] told ; 
Of Robin Hood and little John, 
Frier Tucke and maide Marian." 

Mortimer, as a potter, afterwards fights the frier with 
" flailes." 

2. " The downfall of Robert earle of Huntington, afterward 
* In '• Th" Travels of Tom Thumb over England and Wales " [by Mr. 
Robert Dodsley], p. 106, is another though inferior version : 
•' Here, under this memorial stone, 
Lies Robert earl of Huntingdon ; 
As he, no archer e'er was good. 
And people call'd him Robin Hood : 
Such outlaws as his men and he 
Again may England never see." 


called Robin Hood of merrie Sherwodde : with his love to 
chaste Matilda, the lord Fitzwater's daughter, afterwardes his 
faire maide Marian. Acted by the right honourable, the earle 
of Notingham,'lord high admirall of England, his servants. 
IT Imprinted at London, for William Leake, 1601." 4to, 
b. 1. 

3. " The death of Robert, earle of Huntington, otherwise 
called Robin Hood of merrie Sherwodde : with the lament- 
able tragedie of chaste Matilda, his faire maid Marian, poy- 
soned at Dunmowe, by king John. Acted, &c. IT Imprinted 
&c. [as above] 1601." 410, b. 1. 

These two plays, usually called the first and second part 
of Robin Hood, were always, on the authority of Kirkman, 
falsely ascribed to Thomas Heywood, till Mr. Malone fortu- 
nately retrieved the names of the true authors, Anthony 
Mundy and Henry Chettle.* As they seem partly founded 
on traditions long since forgotten, and refer occasionally to 
documents not now to be found ; at any rate, as they are 
much older than most of the common ballads upon the sub- 
ject, and contain some curious and possibly authentic parti- 
culars not elsewhere to be met with, the reader will excuse 
the particularity of the account and length of the extracts 
here given. 

The first part, or downfall of Robert earle of Huntington, 
is supposed to be performed at the court and command of 
Henry VIII., the poet Skelton being the dramatist, and act- 

* In "a large folio volume of accounts kept by Mr. Philip Henslowe, 
who appears to have been proprietor of the Rose theatre near the Bank- 
side in Southwark," he has entered — 

_o The first part of Robin Hood, by Anthony Mundy. 

The second part of the downfall of earl Huntington, sirnamed 
Robinhood, by Anthony Mundy and Henry Chettle." 

In a subsequent page is the following entry: "Lent unto Robarte 
Shawe, the 18 of Novemb. 1598, to lend unto Mr. Clieattle, upon the 
mending of the first part of Robart Hoode, the sum of xs. ;" and afterwards 

" For mending of Robin Hood for the corte." See Malone's edition 

of "The Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare," 1790, vol. i. part ii. 
(Emendations and additions.) 


ing the part of chorus. The introductory scene commences 

" Enter Sir John Eltatn, and knocke at Skeltons doore. 
Sir John. Howe, maister Skelton ! what, at studie hard? 

\PJ>ens the doore. 
Skel. Welcome and wisht for, honest Sir John Eltam, — 
Twill trouble you after your great affairs, 

[i.e. the surveying. of certain maps which his majesty had 
employed him in ; 
To take the paine that I intended to intreate you to, 
About rehearsall of your promis'd play. 

Eit. Nay, master Skelton ; for the king himselfe, 
As wee were parting, bid mee take great heede 
Wee faile not of our day : therefore I pray 
Sende for the rest, that now we may rehearse. 

Skel. O they are readie all, and drest to play. 
What part play you ? 

Elt. Why, I play little John, 
And came of purpose with this greene sute. 
Skel. Holla, my masters, little John is come. 
[At every doore all the players runne out : some ctying- where ? where ? 
others, Welcome, Sir John : among others the boyes and clowne. 
Skel. Faith, little Tracy, you are somewhat forward. 
What, our maid Marian leaping like a lad ! 
If you remember, Robin is your love. 
Sir Thomas Mantle yonder, not Sir John. 

CloTv. But, master. Sir John is my fellowe, for I am Much the 
miller's Sonne. Am I not? 

Skel. I know yee are, sir : — 
And, gentlemen, since you are thus prepar'd, 
Goe in, and bring your dumbe scene on the stage, 
And I, as prologue, purpose to expresse 
The ground whereon our historic is laied. 

[Exeunt, manet Skelton. 
Trumpets sounde, [i] enter first King Richard with drum and 
auncieni, giving Ely a purse and sceptre, his mother and brother John, 
Chester, Lester, Lacie, others at the king's appointment, doing rever- 
ence. The king goes in : presently Ely ascends the chaire, Chester, 
John, and the queene part displeasantly. [2] Enter Robkrt, earle 
OF Huntington, leading Marian ; /ollowes him War man, and after 
Wartnan, the prior ; IVarman ever flattering atid making curtsie, 
taking gifts of the prior behinde and his master before. Prince John 
enters, offer eth to take Matian; Queen Elinor enters, offering to pull 
Robin from, her; but they infolde each other, and sit downe within the 
curteines. [3] Wartnan with the prior. Sit Hugh Lacy, Lord Sentloe, 
and Sir Gilbert Broghton folde hands, and drawijig the curteins, all 
{but the prior) enter, and are kindely received by Robin Hoode." 


During the exhibition of the second part of the dumb show, 
Skelton instructs the audience as follows : 

" This youth that leads yon virgin by the hand 
Is our earle Robert, or your Robin Hoode, 
That in those daies was earle of Huntington ; 
The ill-fac't miser, brib'd in either hand. 
Is Warman, once the steward of his house, 
Who, Judas like, betraies his liberail lord, 
Into the hands of that relentlesse prior, 
Calde Gilbert Hoode, uncle to Huntington. 
Those two that seeke to part these lovely friends, 
Are Elenor the queene, and John the prince. 
She loves earle Robert, he maide Marian, 
But vainely ; for their deare affect is such, 
As only death can sunder their true loves. 
Long had they lov'd, and now it is agreed, 
This day they must be troth-plight, after wed : 
At Huntington's faire house a feast is helde. 
But eiivie turnes it to a house of teares. 
For those false guestes, conspiring with the prior ; 
To whom earle Robert greatly is in debt, 
Meane at the banquet to betray the earle, 
Unto a heavie writ of outlawry : 
The manner and escape you all shall see. 

Looke to your entrance, get you in, Sir John. 

My shift is long, for I play Frier Tucke ; 

"Wherein, if Skelton hath but any lucke, 

Heele thanke his hearers oft with many a ducke. 

For many talk of Robin Hood that never shot in his bowe. 

But Skelton writes of Robin Hood what he doth truly knowe." 

After some Skeltonical rimes, and a scene betwixt the 
prior, the sheriff, and justice Warman, concerning the out- 
lawry, which appears to be proclaimed, and the taking of 
Earl Huntington at dinner, " Enter Robin Hoode, little John 
following him ; Robin having his napkin on his shoulder, as 
if hee were sodainly raised from dinner." He is in a violent 
rage at being outlawed, and Little John endeavours to pacify 
him. Marian being distressed at his apparent disorder, he 
dissembles with her. After she is gone, John thus addresses 

" Now must your honour leave these mourning tunes, 
And thus by my areede you shall provide ; 


Your plate and jewels * i wil' straight packe up, 
And toward Notingham convey them hence. 
At Rowford, Sowtham, Wortley, Hothersfield, 
Of all your cattell mony shall be made, 
And I at Mansfield will attend your comming ; 
Where weele determine which waie's best to take. 

Rob. Well, be it so ; a God's name, let it be ; 
And if I can, Marian shall come with mee. 

John. Else care will kill her ; therefore if you please, 
At th' utmost corner of the garden wall, 
Soone in the evening waite for Marian, 
And as I goe ile tell her of the place. 
Your horses at the Bell shall readie bee, 
I meane Belsavage,* whence, as citizens 
That ' meane' to ride for pleasure some small way, 
You shall set foorth." 

The company now enters, and Robin charges them with 
the conspiracy, and rates their treacherous proceedings. Little 
John in attempting to remove the goods is set upon by War- 
man and the sheriff ; and during the fray " Enter Prince John, 
Ely and the prior, and others." Little John tells the prince 
he but defends the box containing his own gettings ; upon 
which his royal highness observes, 

"You do the fellow wrong ; his goods are his : 
You only must extend upon the earles. 

Prior. That was, my lord, but nowe is Robert Hood, 
A simple yeoman as his servants were. " 

Ely gives the prior his commission, with directions to make 
speed, lest ** in his country-house all his heards be solde ;" 
and gives Warnian a patent "for the high sheriffewick of 
Nottingham." After this, " Enter Robin like a citizen ; and 
then the queen and Marian disguised for each other. Robin 
takes Marian, and leaves the queen to Prince John, who is 

* That is, the inn so called, upon Ludgate Hill. The modern sign, 
which, however, seems to have been the same 200 years ago, is a bell and 
a wild man ; but the original is supposed to have been a beautiful Indian ; 
and the inscription, La belie satwage. Some, indeed, assert that the inn 
once belonged to a Lady Arabella Savage ; and others, that its name, 
originally The bell and savage, arose (like The George and blue boar) 
from the junction of two inns, with those respective signs. Non nostrum 
est tantas componere lites. 


so much enraged at the deception that he breaks the head of 
Ely's messenger. Sir Hugh, brother to Lord Lacy, and stew- 
ard to Ely, who had been deeply concerned in Huntington's 
ruin, is killed in a brawl by Prince John, whom Ely orders 
to be arrested ; but the prince, producing letters from the 
king revoking Ely's appointment, "lifts up his drawne 
sworde," and ** Exit, cum Lester and Lacy," in triumph. 
Then '* Enter Robin Hoode, Matilda at one doore, little 
John and Much the Miller's sonne at another doore." After 
mutual congratulations, Robin asks if it be 

" possible that Warman's spite 

Should stretch so farre, that he doth hunt the lives 
Of bonnie Scarlet, and his brother Scithlock? 
Much. O, I, sir. Warman came but yesterday to take charge of the 
jaile at Notingham, and this daie, he saies, he will hang the two out- 
lawes. . . . 

Rob. Now, by my honour's hope, . . . 
He is too blame : say, John, where must they die? 

John. Yonder's their mother's house, and here the tree, 
Whereon, poore men, they must forgoe their lives ; 
And yonder comes a lazy lozell frier, 
That is appointed for their confessor, 
Who, when we brought your monie to their mother's, 
Was wishing her to patience for their deaths." 

Here " Enter Frier Tucke ; " some conversation passes, and 
the frier Skeltonizes ; after which he departs, saying, 

" let us goe our way, 

Unto this hanging businesse ; would for mee 
Some rescue or repreeve might set them free. 

Rob. Heardst thou not, little John, the frier's speach? 

John. He seemes like a good fellow, my good lord. 

Rob. He's a good fellowe, John, upon my word. 
Lend me thy home, and get thee in to Much, 
And when I bio we this home, come both and helpe mee. 

John. Take heed, my lord : the villane Warman knows you, 
And ten to one he hath a writ against you. 

Rob. Fear not : below the bridge a poor blind man doth dwell. 
With him I will change my habit, and disguise, 
Only be readie when I call for yee, 
For I will save their lives, if it may bee. . . . 


Enter VVarman, Scarlet and Scathlock bounde, Frier Ttick as their 
confessor, officers with halberts. 

War. Master frier, be briefe, delay no time. 
Scarlet and Scatlock, never hope for life ; 
Here is the place of execution, 
And you must answer lawe for what is done. 

Scar. Well, if there be no remedie, we must : 
Though it ill seemeth, Warman, thou shculdst bee. 
So bloodie to pursue our lives thus cruellie. 

Scat. Our mother sav'd thee from the gallows, Warman, 
His father did preferre thee to thy lord : 
One mother had wee both, and both our fnthers 
To thee and to thy father were kinde friends. ... 

War. Ye were first outlawes, t?ien ye proved theeves. . . . 
Both of your fathers were good honest men ; 
Your mother lives their widowe in good fame : * 
But you are scapethrifts, unthrifts, villanes, knaves, 
And a.s ye liv'd by shifts, shall die with shame." 

To them enters Ralph, the sheriff's man, to acquaint him that 
the carnifex, or executor of the law, had fallen off his "curtail" 
and was " cripplefied " and rendered incapable of performing 
his office ; so that the sheriff was to become his deputy. The 
sheriff insists that Ralph shall serve the turn, which he refuses. 
In the midst of the altercation, ** Enter Robin Hoode, like an 
old man," who tells the sheriff that the two outlaws had mur- 
dered his young son, and undone himself ; so that for revenge- 
sake he desires they may be delivered to him. They denying 
the charge, " Robin whispers with them, " and with the sheriff's 
leave, and his man's help, unbinds them : then, sounds his 
horn ; and " Enter little John, Much . . . Fight ; the frier, 
making as if he helpt the sheriffe, knockes down his men 
crying, Keepe the king's peace. Sheriffe [perceiving that it 
is "the outlawed earle of Huntington"] runnes away, and 
his men." (See the ballad of " Robin Hood rescuing the 
widow's sons." part ii. num. xxiii.) 

* She is called the Widow Scarlet ; so that Scathlocke was the elder 
brother. In fact, however, it was mere ignorance in the author to sup- 
pose the Scathlocke and Scarlet of the story distinct persons, the latter 
name being an evident corruption of the former ; Scathlock, Scadlock, 
Scarlock, Scarlet. 


^' Fri. Farewell, earle Robert, as I am true frier, 
I had rather be thy clarke then serve the prior. 

Rob. A jolly fellowe ! Scarlet, knowest thou him? 

Scar. Hee is of Yorke, and of Saint Maries cloister ; 
There where your greedie uncle is lord prior. . . . 

Rob. Here is no biding, masters; get yee in. . . • 
John, on a sodaine thus I am resolv'd. 
To keepe in Sherewoodde tille the king's returne, 
And being outlawed, leade an outlawe's life. . . . 

John. I like your honour's purpose exceeding well. 

Rob. Nay, no more honour, I pray thee, little John ; 
Henceforth I will be called Robin Hoode, 
Matilda shall be my maid Marian." 

Then follows a scene betwixt old Fitzwater and Prince 
John, in the course of which the prince, as a reason to induce 
Fitzwater to recall his daughter Matilda, tells him that she is 
living in an adulterous stale, for that 

" — Huntington is excommunicate, 
And till his debts be paid, by Rome's decree, 
It is agreed, absolv'd he cannot be ; 
And that can never be — So never wife," &c. 

Fitzwater, on this, flies into a passion, and accuses the prince 
of being already married to "earle Chepstowe's daughter." 
They " fight ; John falles." Then enter the queen, &c., and 
John sentences Fitzwater to banishment : after which *' Enter 
Scathlocke and Scarlet, winding their homes at severall 
doores. To them enter Robin Hoode, Matilda, all in greene 
. . . Much, little John; all the men with bowes and arrowes.* 

Rob. Wind once more, jolly huntsmen, all your horns, 
Whose shrill sound, with the ecchoing wods assist, 
Shall ring a sad knell for the fearefull deere. 
Before our feathered shafts, death's winged darts, 
Bring sodaine summons for their fatal! ends. 

* In " The booke of the inventary of the goods of my lord admeralles 
men tacken the lo of Marche in the yeare 1598," are the following 
properties for Robin Hood and his retinue in this identical play : 
" Item, . . . . i green gown for Maryan. 
Item, vi grene cottes for Roben Hoode, and iiii knaves sewtes. 
Item, i hatte for Robin Hoode, i hobihorse. 
Item, Roben H codes sewtte. 
Item, the fryers tru~se in Roben Hoode." 

Malone's Shak. II. ii. (Emcn. & ad.) 


Scar. Its ful seaven years since we were outlawed first. 
And wealthy Sherewood was our heritage : 
For all those yeares we raigned uncontrolde, 
From Barnsdale shrogs to Notingham's red cliffes. 
At Blithe and Tickhill were we welcome guests : 
Good George a Greene at Bradford was our friend, 
And wanton Wakefield's pinner lov'd us well.* 
At Barnsley dwels a potter, tough and strong, 
That never brookt we brethren should have wrong. 
The niinnes of Farnsfield (pretty nunnes they bee) 
Gave napkins, shirts, and bands to him and mee. 
Bateman of Kendall gave us Kendall greene ; 
And Sharpe of Leedes sharpe arrows for us made. 
At Rotherham dwelt our bowyer, God him blisse, 
Jackson he hight, his bowes did never misse. 
This for our goode, our scathe let Scathlocke tell, 
In merry Mansfield how it once befell. 

Scatk. In merry Mansfield, on a wrestling day, 
Prizes there were, and yeomen came to play. 
My brother Scarlet and myselfe were twaine ; 
Many resisted, but it was in vaine, 
For of them all we wonne the mastery, 
And the gilt wreathes were given to him and me. 
There by Sir Doncaster of ' Hothersfield,' 
We were bewraied, beset, and forst to yield ; 
And so borne bound from thence to Notingham, 
Where we lay doom'd to death till Warman came." 

Some cordial expressions pass between Robin and Matilda. 
He commands all the yeomen to be cheerful ; and orders 
Little John to read the articles. 

'■^ Joh. First, no man must presume to call our master. 
By name of e.Trle, lorde, baron, knight, or squire : 
But simply by the name of Robin Hoode. 

That faire Matilda henceforth change her name, 
'And' by maid Marian's name be only cald. 

Thirdly, no yeoman following Robin Hoode 
In Sherewood, shall use widowe, wife, or maid, 
But by true labour, lustfull thoughts expell. 

Fourthly, no passenger with whom ye meete. 
Shall yee let passe till hee with Robin feaste : 
Except a poast, a carrier, or such folke. 
As use with foode to serve the market townes. 

Fiftly, you never shall the poore man wrong. 

* George a Greene and Wakefield's pinner were one and the same 
person. The shoemaker of Bradford is anonymous. 


Nor spare a priest, a usurer, or a clarke. 

Lastly, you shall defend with all your power 
Maids, widowes, orphants, and distressed men. 

All. All these we vowe to keepe, as we are men. 

Rob. Then wend ye to the greenewod merrily, 
And let the light roes bootlesse from yee runne, 
Marian and I, as soveraigns of your toyles, 
Will wait, within our bower, your bent bowes spoiles. 

[Exeunt winding their homes. " 

In the next scene, we find Frier Tucke feignedly entering 
into a conspiracy with the prior and Sir Doncaster to serve 
an execution on Robin in disguise. Jinny, the widow 
Scarlet's daughter, coming in on her way to Sherwood, is 
persuaded by the frier to accompany him, "disguised in 
habit like a pedler's mort." Fitzwater enters like an old man : 
— sees Robin sleeping on a green bank, Marian strewing 
flowers on him ; pretends to be blind and hungry, and is 
regaled by them. In answer to a question why the fair 
Matilda (Fitzwater's daughter) had changed her name, Robin 
tells him it is 

"Because she lives a spotlesse maiden life : 
And shall, till Robin's outlawe life have ende, 
That he may lawfully take her to wife ; 
Which, if King Richard come, will not be long." 

" Enter Frier Tucke and Jinny like pedlers singing," and 
afterward '* Sir Doncaster and others weaponed." The frier 
discovers the plot, and a fray ensues. The scene then changes 
to the court, where the prior is informed of six of his barns 
being destroyed by fire, and of the different execrations of all 
ranks upon him, as the undoer of "the good lord Robert, 
earle of Huntington ;" that the convent of St. Mary's had 
elected *• Olde father Jerome " prior in his place ; and lastly, 
a herald brings his sentence of banishment, which is confirmed 
by the entrance of the prior. Lester brings an account of the 
imprisonment of his gallant sovereign, King Richard, by the 
Duke of Austria, and requires his ransom to be sent. He 
then introduces a description of his matchless valour in the 
Holy Land. John not only refuses the ransom-money, but 
usurps the style of king ; upon which Lester grows furious, 


and rates the whole company. The following is part of the 
dialogue : 

^* Joh. [to Lester). Barest thou attempt thus proudly in our sight ? 
Lesi. What is't a subject dares, that I dare not ? 
Sals. Dare subjects dare, their soveraigne being by? 
Lest. O God, that my true soveraigne were ny ! 
Qu. Lester, he is. 
Lest. Madame, by God, you ly. 
Chest. Unmanner'd man. 
Lest. A plague of reverence ! " 

After this, and more on the same subject, the scene returns 
to the forest, where Ely, being taken by Much, "like a 
countryman with a basket," is examined and detected by 
Robin, who promises him protection and service. On their 
departure : 

''^Joh. Skelton, a worde or two beside the play. 

Frt. Now, Sir John Eltam, what ist you would say? 

John. Methinks I see no jeasts of Robin Hoode, 
No merry morices of Frier Tuck, 
No pleasant skippings up and downe the wodde. 
No hunting songs, no coursing of the bucke : 
Pray God this play of ours may have good lucke, 
And the king's majestie mislike it not ! 

Fri. And if he doe, what can we doe to that ? 
I promis'd him a play of Robin Hoode, 
His honorable life, in merry Sherewod ; 
His majestie himselfe survaid the plot, 
And bad me boldly write it, it was good. 
For merry jeasts, they have bene showne before 
As how the frier fell into the well, 
For love of Jinny, that faire bonny bell : 
How Greeneleafe rob'd the shrieve of Notingham, 
And other mirthful matter, full of game." 

" Enter Warman banished." He laments his fall, and 
applies to a cousin, on whom he had bestowed large pos- 
sessions, for relief; but receives nothing, except reproaches 
for his treachery to his noble master. The jailor of Notting- 
ham, who was indebted to him for his place, refuses him 
even a scrap of his dog's meat, and reviles him in the severest 
terms. Good-wife Tomson, whose husband he had delivered 
from death, to his great joy, promises him a caudle, but 


fetches him a halter,* in which he is about to hang himself, 
but is prevented by Fitzwater, and some of Robin Hood's 
men, who crack a number of jokes upon him ; Robin puts 
an end to their mockery, and proffers him comfort and 
favour. Then enters Frier Tucke, with an account of Sir 
Doncaster and the prior being stripped and wounded in their 
way to Bawtrey : Robin, out of love to his uncle, hastens to 
the place. After this " Enter Prince John, solus, in green, 
bowe and arrowes. 

'^^ John. Why this is somewhat like, now may I sing, 
As did the Wakefield pinder in his note ; 
At Michaelmas commeth my covenant out. 

My master gives me my fee : 
Then Robin He weare thy Kendall greene, 

And wend to the greenewodde with thee.'' f 

He assumes the name of Woodnet, and is detected by Scath- 
locke and Frier Tucke. The prince and Scathlocke fight, 
Scathelocke grows weary, and the frier takes his place. 
Marion enters, and perceiving the frier, parts the combatants. 
Robin enters, and John submits to him. Much enters, 
running, with information of the approach of " the king and 
twelve and twenty score of horses." Robin places his people 
in order. The trumpets sound, the king and his train enter, 
a general pardon ensues, and the king confirms the love of 
Robin and Matilda. Thus the play concludes, Skelton 
promising the second part, and acquainting the audience of 
what it should consist. 

The second part, or death of Robert earle of Huntington, 
is a pursuit of the same story. The scene, so far as our 
hero is concerned, lyes in Sherwood. A few extracts may 
not be unacceptable. 

* Which, by the way, was termed a hempen caudle. See the Second 
Part of K. H. VI., act iv. scene 7. Lord-Chanceilor Jeffries, at the revo- 
lution, was treated much in the same manner. One day, during his con- 
finement in the Tower, he received a barrel of oysters, upon which he 
observed to his keeper, " Well, you see, I have yet some friends left : " 
at the bottom of the barrel, however, he found a halter ; which changed 
his countenance, and is even thought to have hastened his death. 

t See the ballad of "The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield," part ii. 
num. iii. 


" Sc. iiii. Winde homes. Enter king, queene, &c. Frier 
Tuck carrying a stag's head, dauncing." The frier has been 
sent for to read the following incription upon a copper ring 
round the stag's neck : 

" When Harold Hare-foote raigned king, 
About my necke he put this ring." 

The king orders "head, ring, and all " to be sent to Nottingham 
Castle, to be kept for monuments. Fitzwater tells him he 
has heard *' an olde tale," 

" That Harold, being Goodwin's sonne of Kent,* 
Hunted for pleasure once within this wood, 
And singled out a faire and stately stagge. 
Which, foote to foote, the king in running caught ; 
And sure this was the stagge. 
King. It was no doubt. 
Chester. But some, my lord, affirme, 
That Julius Caesar, many years before, 
Tooke such a stagge, and such a poesie writ."t 

* Fitzwater confounds one man with another ; Harold Harefoot was 
the son and successor of Canute the great. 

t This tradition is referred to, and the inscription given, in Ray's 
Itineraries, 1760, p. 153 : — " We rode through a bushet or common called 
Rodwell-hake, two miles from Leeds, where (according to the vulgar 
tradition) was once found a stag, with a rmg of brass about its neck, 
having this inscription : 

When Julius Caesar here was king, 
About my neck he put this ring ; 
Whosoever doth me take, 
Let me go for Caesar's sake.'' 

In The Midwife, or Old Woman's Magazine (vol. i. p. 250), Mrs. 
Midnight, in a letter "To the venerable society of antiquarians," con- 
taining a description of Caesar's camp on Windsor forest, has the follow- 
ing passage : " There have been many extraordinary things discovered 
about this camp. One thing, I particularly remember, was a deer of 

about sixteen hundred years old This deer it seems was a 

favourite of Caesar's, and on that account he bedecked her neck with a 
golden collar and an inscription, which I shall by and by take notice of; 
she had been frequently taken, but when the hunters, the peasants, and 
poor people saw the golden collar on her neck, they readily let her go 
again. However, as she continually increased in strength and in bulk, 
as well as in age, after the course of about fifteen or sixteen centuries, 
the flesh and skin were entirely grown over this collar, so that it could 


Upon which his majesty very sagaciously remarks, 

" It should not be in Julius Caesar's time : 
There was no English used in this land 
Untill the Saxons came, and this is writ 
In Saxon characters." 

The next quotation may be of service to Dr. Percy, who 

not be discover'd till after she was kill'd, and then to the surprise of the 
virtuosi it appear'd with this inscription : 

When Julius Csesar reigned here, 

Then was I a little deer; 

If any man should me take, 

Let me go for Caesar's sake. 
" This collar, which is of pure gold, I am told weighs thirty ounces, 
and as the blood of the creature still appears fresh upon it, I believe it 
may be as valuable as any of your gimcracks ; however, there will be no 
harm in my sending of it to you ; and if I can procure it, you may de- 
pend on my taking the utmost care of it." As no notice is announced 
of this wonderful piece of antiquity in the voluminous and important 
lucubrations of the above learned body, it most probably never came 
into their possession ; which is very much to be lamented, as it would 
have been an admirable companion for Hardecnuie's chamber-pot, King 
Edward the first' s Jinger, and other similar curiosities. 

Juvenal des Ursins gravely relates that in the year 1380 a hart was 
taken at Senlis with a chain about his neck inscribed " Ccesar hoc me 

Upton, to be even with him, supposes a hart to have been taken at 
Bagshot near Windsor, with a motto on the collar in the French language, 
which proves the ancient Romans were familiar therewith long before 
it existed : 

"Julius Caesar, quant jeof us petis, 
Cest coler suz nton col ad mysT ^ 

This dictator perpetuo, in fact, seems to have collared every hart he 
took. The family of Pompei in Italy use two harts for their supporters 
on whose collars were the letters N. M. T., in memory of one on whose 
collar were these words : " "i^emo M* langat, Casaris sum." Anstis, 

ii. 113. 

The original of all these stories is to be found in Pliny, who says : 
" It is generally held and confessed that the stagge or hind live long ; 
for an hundred yeer after Alexander the great, some were taken with 
golden collars about their necks, overgrowne now with haire and growne 
within the skin: which collars the said king had done upon them" 
(Naturall Historie, by Holland, 1601, B. 8, c. 32). Pausanias, more- 
over, speaking of one Leocydas, who fought for the Megalopolitans, in 

1 Histoire de Charles VI. 2 Upton de re miUtari, p. 119. 


has been pleased to question our hero's nobility, because 
"the most ancient poems make no mention of this earldom," 
and the old legend expressly asserts him **to have been a 
yeoman." It is veiy true ; and we shall here not only find 
his title established, but also discover the secret of his not 
being usually distinguished or designed by it. 

" Enter Roben Hoodc. 

King. How now, earle Robert ! 

Fri. A forfet, a forfet, my liege lord, 
My master's lawes are on record, 
The court-roll here your grace may see. 

King. I pray thee, frier, read them mee. 

Fri. One shall suffice, and this is hee. 
No man that commeth in this wod, 
To feast or dwell with Robin Hood, 
Shall call him earle, lord, knight, or squire, 
He no such titles doth desire, 
But Robin Hood, plain Robin Hoode, 
That honest yoeman, stout and good, 
On paine of forfetting a marke, 
That must be paid to mee his clarke. 
My liege, my liege, this lawe you broke, 
Almost in the last word you spoke ; 
That crime may not acquitted bee. 
Till Frier Tuck receive his fee." 

Now, the reason that ** the most ancient poems make no 
mention of this earldom," and the old legend expressly 
asserts him "to have been a yeoman," appears, plainly 
enough, to be, that as, pursuant to his own injunction, he 
was never called, either by his followers, or in the vicinity, 
by any other name than Robin Hood, so particularly the 
minstrels, who were always, no doubt, welcome to Sherwood,* 

conjunction with Lydiades, against the Lacedaemonians (about the year 
243 before Christ), says he was reported to be the descendant in the 
ninth degree of that Arcesilaus, who living in Lycosura saw that stag 
which is sacred to the goddess Despoine worn out with old age. This 
stag, he adds, had a collar on its neck with the following inscription : 

Caught young, when Agapenor sail'd for Troy. 

By which, he concludes, it is evident that a stag lives much longer than 
an elephant (B. 8, c. 10). 

* Robin, in the old legend, expresses his regard for this order of men 


and liberally entertained by him and his yeomanry, would 
take special care never to offend against the above law : 
which puts an end to the dispute. — Q. E. D. 

Our hero is, at length, poisoned by a drink which Don- 
caster and the prior, his uncle, had prepared for him to give 
to the king. His departing scene and last dying speech are 
beautiful and pathetic. 

'■'■Rob. Inough, inough, Fitzwater, take your child. 
My dying frost, which no sunnes heat can thawe, 
Closes the powers of all my outward parts ; 
My freezing blood runnes back into my heart, 
Where it assists death, which it would resist : 
Only my love a little hinders death, 
For he beholds her eyes, and cannot smite. 

Mat. O let mee looke for ever in thy eyes, 
And lay my warme breath to thy bloodlesse lips. 
If my sight can restraine death's tyrannies, 
Or keep lives breath within thy bosome lockt." 

He desires to be buried 

"At Wakefield, underneath the abbey- wall ; " 
directs the manner of his funeral ; and bids his yeomen, 

*' For holy dirges, sing ' him ' wodmen's songs." 
The king, upon the earl's death, expresses his sorrow for 
the tragical event ; ratifies the will ; repeats the directions 
for the funeral ; and says, 

** Fall to your wod-songs, therefore, yeomen bold, 
And deck his herse with flowers, that lov'd you deere." 

Tiie whole concludes with the following solemn dirge : 
"Weepe, weepe, ye wod-men waile, 
Your hands with sorrow wring ; 
Your master Robin Hood lies deade, 
Therefore sigh as you sing, 

(concerning which the reader may consult an ingenious " Essay " in the 
Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. i., and some "Observations" 
in a collection of ancient songs, printed in 1790): 
" Whether he be messengere. 
Or a man that myrthes can, 
Or yf he be a pore man, 
Of my good he shall have some." 


" Here lies his primer, and his beades. 
His bent bowe, and his arrowes keene, 
His good sworde and his holy crosse : 
Now cast on flowers fresh and greene. 

"And, as they fall, shed teares and say, ' 
Well a, well a day, well a, well a day! 
Thus cast yee flowers and sing, 
And on to Wakefield take your way." 

The poet then prosecutes the legend of Matilda, who is 
finally poisoned, by the procurement of King John, in Dun- 
mow Priory. 

The story of this lady, whom the author of these plays is 
supposed to have been the first that converted into the character 
of Maid Marian, or connected in any shape with the history 
of Robin Hood, is thus related by Stow, under the year 
1213 : "The chronicle of Dunmow sayth, this discord arose 
betwixt the king and his barons, because of Mawd called the 
faire, daughter to Robert Fitzwalter, whome the king loved, 
but her father would not consent ; and thereupon ensued 

warre throughout England Whilst Mawd the faire 

remayned at Dunmow, there came a messenger unto her 
from King John about his suite in love, but because she would 
not agree, the messenger poysoned a boyled or potched egge 
against she was hungrie, whereof she died" (Annales, 1592). 
Two of Drayton's heroical epistles pass between King John 
and Matilda. He has also written her legend. 

4. •' Robin Hood's penn'orths, by Wm. Haughton." * 

5. *' Metropolis coronata, the triumphs of ancient drapery : 
or, rich cloathing of England, in a second yeeres performance. 
In honour of the advancement of Sir John Jolles, knight, to 
the high office of lord maior of London, and taking his oath 
for the same authoritie, on Monday being the 30. day of 
October, 161 5. Performed in heartie affection to him, and 
at the bountifull charges of his worthy brethren the truely 
honourable society of drapers, the first that received such 
dignitie, in this citie. Devised and written by A. M. 

* This play is entered in Master Henslowe's account-book with the 
date of December 1600. See Malone's Shakespeare, vol. ii. part ii. 
(Emen. & ad.) 



[Anthony Mundy] citizen and draper of London." 1615, 

This is one of the pageants formerly usual on Lord Mayor's 
day, and of which several are extant, written as well by our 
author Mundy,* as by Middleton, Dekker, Heywood, and 
other hackney dramatists of that period. They were thought 
of such consequence that the City had for some time (though 
probably not till after the Restoration) a professed laureat for 
their composition ; an office which expired with Elkanah 
Settle in 1 723-24. They consisted chiefly of machinery, alle- 
gorical or historical personages, songs and speeches. 

"After all these shewes, thus ordered in their appointed 
places, followeth another device of huntsmen, all clad in 
greene, with their bowes, arrowes and bugles, and a new 
slaine deere, carried among them. It savoureth of earle 
Robert de la Hude, sometime the noble earle of Huntington, 
and Sonne in law (by marriage) to old Fitz-Alwine,t raised 
by the muses all-commanding power, to honour this triumph 
with his father. During the time of his out-lawed life in 
the forest of merry Shirwood, and elsewhere, while the cruel 
oppression of a most unnatural and covetous brother hung 
heavy upon him, Gilbert de la Hude, lord abbot of Christall 
[r, Kirkstall] abbey, who had all or most of his lands in 
mortgage : he was commonly called Robin Hood, and had a 
gallant company of men (out-lawed in the like manner) that 
followed his downecast fortunes; as little John, Scathlocke, 
Much the miller's son. Right-hitting Brand, fryar Tuck, and 
many more. In which condition of life we make instant use 
of him, and part of his brave bowmen, fitted with bowes and 
arrowes, of the like strength and length, as good records 

* " The Triuniphes of Reunited Britannia. A pageant in honour of 
Sir Leonard HoUiday, lord mayor." 1605. 

t Henry Fitz-Alwine Fitz-Liefstane, goldsmith, first mayor of London, 
was appointed to that office by King Richard I. in 1189, and continued 
therein till the 15th of King John, 1212, when he "deceased, and was 
buried in the priorie of the holy trinitie, neare unto Aldgate " (Stow's 
Survey, 1598, p. 418). His relationship with Robin Hood is merely 
poetical, and invented by Mundy " for the nonce ; '' though it is by no 
means improbable that they were acquainted, and that our hero might 
have occasionally dined at the Mansion-house on a Lord Mayor's day. 


deliver testimonie, were then used by them in their killing of 


"Afterward, [viz. after '* Fitz-Alwine's speech to the lord 
maior at night,"] as occasion best presenteth itselfe, when the 
heate of all other employments are calmly overpast, earle 
Robin Hood, with fryer Tuck, and his other brave huntes- 
men, attending (now at last) to discharge their duty to my 
lord, which the busie turmoile of the whole day could not 
before affoord : they shewe themselves to him in this order, 
and earle Robin himselfe thus speaketh. 

The speech spoken by Earl Robert de la Hude, commonly 
called Robin Hood. 

Since graves may not their dead containe. 

Nor in their peaceful! sleepes remaine, 

But triumphes and great showes must use them, 

And we unable to refuse them ; 

It joyes me that earle Robert Hood, 

Fetcht from the forrest of merrie Shirwood, 

With these my yeomen tight and tall, 

Brave huntsmen and good archers all, 

Must in this joviall day partake, 

Prepared for your honour's sake. 

No sooner was i raysde from rest, 

And of my former state possest 

As while i liv'd, but being alone. 

And of my yeomen seeing not one, 

I with my bugle gave a call. 

Made all the woods to ring withall. 

Immediately came little John, 

And Scathlock followed him anon, 

With Much the honest miller's sonne ; 

And ere ought else could be done, 

The froUicke frier came tripping in, 

His heart upon a merrie pinne. 

Master (quoth he) in yonder brake, 

A deere is hid for Marian's sake. 

Bid Scathlock, John, or honest Brand, 

That hath the happy hitting hand, 

Shoote right and have him : and see, my lord, 

The deed performed with the word. 

For Robin and his bow-men bold. 

Religiously did ever holde, 

Not emptie-handed to be seene, 

Were't but at feasting on a greene ; 


Much more then, when so high a day- 
Calls our attendance : all we may 
Is all too little, tis your grace 
To winke at weakenesse in this case : 
So, fearing to be over-long. 
End all with our old hunting song. 

The song of Robin Hood and his huntes-men. 

Now wend we together, my merry men all. 

Unto the forrest side a ; 
And there to strike a buck or a doae. 

Let our cunning all be tried a. 

Then goe we merrily, merrily on. 

To the green- wood to take up our stand [a], 

Where we will lye in waite for our game, 
With our best bowes all in our hand [a]. 

What life is there like to bold Robin Hood? 

It is so pleasant a thing a : 
In merry Shirwood he spends his dayes. 

As pleasantly as a king a. 

No man may compare with bold Robin Hood, 
With Robin Hood, Scathlocke and John [a] : 

Their like was never, nor never will be. 
If in case that they were gone [a]. 

They will not away from merry Shirwood, 

In any place else to dwell [a] : 
For there is neither city nor towne. 

That likes them half so well [a]. 

Our lives are wholly given to hunt. 

And haunt the merry greene-wood [a] ; 
Where our best service is daily spent, 

For our master Robin Hood [a]." 

6. " Robin Hood and his pastoral May games." 1624. 

7. " Robin Hood and his crew of soldiers." 1627. 
These two titles are inserted among the plays mentioned 

by Chetwood in his British Theatre (p. 67) as written by 
anonymous authors in the i6th century to the Restoration. 
But neither Langbaine, who mentions both, nor any other 
person, pretends to have ever seen either of them. The 
former, indeed, may possibly be " The playe of Robyn 


Hode," already noticed ; and the other is probably a future 
> article. Langbaine, it is to be observed, gives no date to 
either piece ; so that it may be fairly concluded those above 
specified are of Chetwood's own invention, which appears to 
have been abundantly fertile in every species of forgery and 

8. "The sad shepherd, or a tale of Robin Hood." 
The story of our renowned archer cannot be said to have 
been wholly occupied by bards without a name, since, not 
to mention Mundy or Drayton, the celebrated Ben Jonson 
intended a pastoral drama on this subject, under the above 
title ; but dying, in the year 1637, before it was finished, 
little more than the two first acts have descended down to us. 
His last editor (Mr. Whalley), while he regrets that it is but 
a fragment, speaks of it in raptures, and, indeed, not without 
evident reason, many passages being eminently poetical and 

** The persons of the play," so far as concerns our immediate 
purpose, are : [i] " Robin Hood, the chief woodman [i.e. 
forester], master of the feast. [2] Marian, his lady, the 
mistress. [3] Friar Tuck, the chaplain and steward. [4] 
Little John, bow-bearer. [5, 6] Scarlet, Scathlocke,* two 
brothers, huntsmen. [7] George a Green, huisher of the 
bower. [8] Much, Robin Hood's bailiff or acater." The rest 
are the guests invited^ the witch of Paplewick, her daughter, 
the swin'ard her son, Puck Hairy or Robin Good fellow, 
their hind, and lastly a devout hermit. "The scene, Sher- 
wood, consisting of a landscape of a forest, hills, valleys, 
cottages, a castle, a river, pastures, herds, flocks, all full of 
country simplicity; Robin Hood's bower, his well, &c." 
"The argument of the first act" is as follows: "Robin 
Hood, having invited all the shepherds and shepherdesses 
of the vale of Be'voir to a feast in the forest of Sherwood, 
and trusting to his mistress, Maid Marian, with her wood- 
men, to kill him venison against the day ; having left the 
like charge with Friar Tuck, his chaplain and steward, to 
command the rest of his merry men to see the bower made 

* Jonson was led into this mistake by the old play of Robin Hood. 
See before, p. Iv. 


ready, and all things in order for the entertainment : * meets ' 
with his guests at their entrance into the wood, and conducts 
them to his bower : where, by the way, he receives the rela- 
tion of the sad shepherd ^glamour, who is fallen into a deep 
melancholy for the loss of his beloved Earine, reported to 
have been drowned in passing over the Trent, some few days 
before In the meantime Marian is come from hunt- 
ing Robin Hood inquires if she hunted the deere at 

force, and what sport he made? how long he stood? and 
what head he bore ? all which is briefly answered, with a re- 
lation of breaking him up, and the raven, and her bone. The 
suspect had of that raven to be Maudlin the witch of Paple- 
wick, whom one of the huntsmen met i' the morning at the 
rousing of the deer, and is confirmed by her being then in 
Robin Hood's kitchen, i' the chimney corner, broiling the 
same bit which was thrown to the raven at the quarry or fall 
of the deer. Marian, being gone in to shew the deer to some 
of the shepherdesses, returns discontented ; sends away the 
venison she had killed to her they call the witch ; quarrels 
with her love Robin Hood, abuseth him, and his guests the 
shepherds ; and so departs, leaving them all in wonder and 

By " the argument of the second act " it appears that the 
witch had '* taken the shape of Marian to abuse Robin Hood 
and perplex his guests." However, upon an explanation of 
the matter with the true Marian, the trick is found out, the 
venison recovered, and ** Robin Hood dispatches out his 
woodmen to hunt and take her : which ends the act." The 
third act was designed to be taken up with the chase of the 
witch, her various schemes to elude the pursuers, and the 
discovery of Earine in the swineherd's enchanted oak. No- 
thing more of the author's design appearing, we have only to 
regret the imperfect state of a pastoral drama, which, accord- 
ing to the above learned and ingenious editor, would have 
done honour to the nation.* 

* This play appears to have been performed upon the stage after the 
Restoration. The prologue and epilogue (spoken by Mr. Portlock) are 
to be found in num. loog of the Sloane MSS. It was republished, with 
a continuation and notes, by Mr. Waldron, of Drurylane Theatre, in 


9. "Robin Hood and his crew of souldiers, a comedy 
acted at Nottingham on the day of his saCRed majesties 
corronation. Vivat rex. The actors names : Robin Hood, 
commander ; Little John, William Scadlocke, souldiers ; 
messenger from the sheriffe. London, printed for James 
Davis, 1 66 1." 4to. 

This is an interlude, of a few pages and no merit, alluding 
to the late rebellion, and the subject of the day. The outlaws, 
convinced by the reasoning of the sheriff's messenger, become 
loyal subjects. 

10. " Robin Hood. An opera, as it is perform'd at Lee's 
and Harper's great theatrical booth in Bartholomew-fair." 
1 730. 8vo. 

11. "Robin Hood." 1751. 8vo. 

This was a ballad-farce, acted at Drury-lane Theatre, in 
which the following favourite song was originally sung by 
Mr. Beard, in the character of Robin Hood : 

As blithe as the linnet sings in the green wood, 

So blithe we'll wake the morn ; 
And through the wide forest of merry Sherwood 

We'll wind the bugle horn. 

The sheriff attempts to take bold Robin Hood, 

Bold Robin disdains to fly ; 
Let him come when he will, we'll, in merry Sherwood, 

Or vanquish, boys, or die. 

Our hearts they are stout, and our bows they are good, 

As well their masters know ; 
They're cuU'd in the forest of merry Sherwood, 

And never will spare a foe. 

Our arrows shall drink of the fallow deer's blood, 

We'll hunt them all o'er the plain ! 
And through the wide forest of merry Sherwood, 

No shaft shall fly in vain. 

Brave Scarlet, and John, who ne'er were subdu'd, 

Give each his hand so bold ; 
We'll range through the forest of merry Sherwood, 

What say my heans of gold ? 

12. "Robin Hood; or Sherwood forest : a comic opera. 
As performed at the theatre-royal in Covent-garden. By 
Leonard Mac Nally, esq." 1784. 8vo. 


This otherwise insignificant performance was embellished 
with some fine music by Mr. Shield. It has been since re- 
duced to, and is still frequently acted as, an after-piece. 

A drama on the subject of Robin Hood, under the title of 
The Foresters, has been long expected from the elegant author 
of The School for Scandal. The first act, said to have been 
written many years ago, is, by those who have seen or heard 
it, spoken of with admiration.* 

(27) — ^^innumei able poems, rimes, songs and balladsr'\ 
The original and most ancient pieces of this nature have all 
perished in the lapse of time, during a period of between five 
and six hundred years' continuance ; and all we now know 
of them is that such things once existed. In the Vision of 
Pierce Plowman, an allegorical poem, thought to have been 
composed soon after the year 1360, and generally ascribed 
to Robert Langeland, the author introduces an ignorant, idle, 
and drunken secular priest, the representative, no doubt, of 
the parochial clergy of that age, in the character of Sloth, 
who makes the following confession : 

" I cannot parfitli mi paternoster, as the preist it singeth, 

But I can ryms of Roben Hode, and ' Randolf erl of Chester, 
But of our lorde or our lady I lerne nothyng at all." t 

* A most stupid pantomime on this subject, under the title of " Merry 
Sherwood, or Harlequin, forester," was performed in December 1795, 
at the Theatre-royal, Covent-garden. 

t ist edit. 1550, fo. xxvi. b. (Randolf is misprinted Rand of.) Sub- 
sequent editions, even of the same year, reading only " Randall of Ches- 
ter." Mr. Warton (History of English Poetry, ii. 179) makes this 
genius, whom he calls a frier, say " that he is well acquainted with the 
rimes of Randall of Chester ; " and these rimes he, whimsically enough, 
conjectures to be the old Chester Whitsun plays ; which, upon very idle 
and nonsensical evidence, he supposes to have been written by Randal 
Higdcn, the compiler of the Polychronicon. Of course, if this absurd 
idea were at all well founded, the rimes of Robin Hood must likewise 
allude to certain Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire plays, written by himself. 
The " Randolf erl of Chester " here meant is Randal Blundevile, the last 
earl of that name, who had been in the Holy Land, was a great warrior 
and patriot, and died in 1231. 

The reading of the original edition is confirmed by a very old manu- 
script in the Cotton Library (Vespasian, B. XVI.) differing considerably 
from the printed copies, which gives the passage thus ; 


Fordun, the Scotish historian, who wrote about 1340, 
speaking of Robin Hood and Little John, and their accom- 
plices, says, "of whom the foolish vulgar in comedies and 
tragedies make lewd entertainment, and are delighted to hear 
the jesters and minstrels sing them above all other ballads ; "* 
and Mair (or Major), whose history was published by him- 
self in 1 52 1, observes that " The exploits of this Robert are 
celebrated in songs throughout all Britain." f So, likewise, 
Maister Johne Bellendene, the translator of " that noble clerk 
Maister Hector Boece " (Bois or Boethius), having mentioned 
"that waithman Robert Hode with his fallow litil Johne," 
adds, *' of quhom ar mony fabillis and mery sportis soung 
amang the vulgar piepyll.":}: Whatever may have been the 
nature of the compositions alluded to by the above writers, 
several of the pieces printed in the present collection are un- 

" I can nouzt perfiitli my pater-noster as a prest it syngeth : 
I can rymes of Robyn Hood, of Rondolf erl of Chestre, 
Ac of oure lorde ne of oure ladi the leste that ever was maked." 

(See also Caligula, A. XL) 

The speaker himself could have told Mr. Warton he was no frier : 

" I have ben prieste & person passynge thyrty winter, 
Yet can I nether solfe, ne singe, ne sayntes lyves read ; 
But I can find in a fielde or in a furlong an hare, 
Better than in Beatus vir or in Beali omnes 
Construe one clause well, & kenne it to my parishens." 

* " De quibus stolidum wlgus hianter in comoediis & tragsediis pru- 
rienter festum faciunt, & super ceteras 'romancias mimos & bardanos 
cantitare delectantur " (Scotichronicon, a Heame, p. 774). Comedies 
and tragedies are — not dramatic compositions, but — poems of a comic or 
serious cast. Romance in Spanish, and romance in French, signify — not 
a tale of chivalry, but — a vulgar ballad, at this day. 

t "Rebus hujus Roberti gestis tota Britannia in cantibus utitur " 
(Majoris Britanniae Historia, Edin. 1740, p. 128). 

t Hystory of Scotland, Edin. 1541, fo. The word "waithman " was 
probably suggested by Andrew of Wyntown (see before, Note 3). It 
seems equivalent to the English vagabond, or perhaps outlaw. Waith is 
waif; and it is to be remembered that, in the technical language of the 
English courts, a woman is said to be waived, and not outlawed. *' In 
our auld Scottish langage," says Skene, "ane Vothman is ane out-law, 
or ane fugitive fra the lawes " (^De verborum signijicatione, Edin. 1597). 
It is from '^'x^2,\\^venari,/ugare). See Lye's Dictionary. The pas- 
sage above quoted does not occur in Boise's original work. 


questionably of great antiquity ; not less, that is, than between 
three and four hundred years old. The Lytell Geste, which 
is first inserted, is probably the oldest thing upon the sub- 
ject we now possess ;* but a legend, apparently of the same 
species, was once extant, of, perhaps, a still earlier date, of 
which it is some little satisfaction to be able to give even the 
following fragment, from a single leaf, fortunately preserved 
in one of the volumes of old printed ballads in the British 
Museum, in a handwriting as old as Henry the Sixth's time. 
It exhibits the characters of our hero and hxsjidus Achates in 
the noblest point of view. 

" He sayd Robyn Hod .... yne the preson. 
And owght off hit was gon. 

The porter rose a-non certeyn , 

As sone as he hard Johan call ; 
Lytyll Johan was redy with a sword, 

And bare hym throw to the wall. 

Now will I be jayler, sayd lytyll Johan, 

And toke the keys in bond ; 
He toke the way to Robyn Hod, 

And sone he hyme unbond. 

He gaffe hym a good swerd in his bond. 

His bed ther-«ith for to kepe ; 
And ther as the wallis wer lowest, 

Anon down ther they lepe. 

To Robyn sayd : 

I have done the a god torne for an . . . 

Quit me when thow may ; 
I have done the a gode torne, sayd lytyll [Johan], 

Forsothe as I the saye ; 

* Of this poem there have been at least five editions at London or 
Westminster, and one at Edinburgh. In a list of " bookes printed and 
. . . sold by Jane Bell, at the east end of Christ-church [1655]," in com- 
pany with Frier Rush, The frier and the boy, &c., is " a book of Robin 
Hood and Little John." Captain Cox of Coventry appears to have had 
a copy of some old edition : see Laneham's Letter from Killingworth, 


I have browghte the under the gren wod . . . 
Farewell & have gode daye. 

Nay, be my trowthe, sayd Robyn, 

So schall it never bee ; 
I make the master, sayd Robyn, 

Off all my men & me. 
Nay, be my trowthe, sayd lytyll Johan, 

So schall it never bee." 

This, indeed, may be part of the " story of Robin Hood and 
Little John," which M. Wilhelm Bedwell found in the 
ancient MS. lent him by his much honoured good friend 
M. G. Withers, whence he extracted and published ** The 
Tumament of Tottenham," a poem of the same age, and which 
seemed to him to be done (perhaps but transcribed) by Sir 
Gilbert Pilkington, formerly, as some had thought, parson of 
that parish.* 

That poems and stories on the subject of our hero and his 
companions were extraordinarily popular and common before 
and during the i6th century is evident from the testimony 
of divers writers. Thus, Alexander Barclay, priest, in his 
translation of The Shyp of Folys, printed by Pynson in 1508, 
and by John Cawood in I570,t says : 

*' I write no jeste ne tale of Robin Hood." 

Again : 

" For goodlie scripture is not worth an hawe. 
But tales are loved ground of ribaudry ; 
And many are so blinded with their foly, 
That no scriptur thinke they so true nor gode. 
As is a foolish jest of Robin Hode." 

Again : 

' And of all fables and jestes of Robin Hood, 
Or other trifles." 

* " Description of the Town of Tottenham-high-crosse," &c. London 
(1631, 4to), 1781, 8vo. The invaluable MS. alluded to has been since 
discovered ; and the entire poem, of which Mr. Ritson has here given a 
fragment, will be found in the Appendix. — Ed. 

t The book, under the same title, printed by Wynken de Worde, in 
1517, is a different translation in prose. 


The same Barclay, in the fourth of his Egloges, subjoined 
to the last edition of The Ship of Foles, but originally printed 
soon after 1500, has the following passage : 

" Yet would I gladly heare some mery fit 
Of maide Marion, or els of Robin Hood, 
Or Benteleyes ale, which chafeth well the blood, 
Of Perte of Norwich, or Sauce of Wilberton, 
Or buckishe Joly * well stuffed as a ton." 

Robert Braham, in his epistle to the reader, prefixed to 
Lydgate's Troy-book, 1555, is of opinion that *' Caxton's re- 
cueil" [of Troy] is *' worthye to be numbred amongest the 
tiifelinge tales and barrayne luerdries of Robyn Hode and 
Bevys of Hampton." (See Ames's Typographical Antiquities, 
by Herbert, p. 849.) 

" For one that is sand blynd," says Sir Thomas Chaloner, 
** would take an asse for a moyle, or another prayse a rime 
ot Robyn Hode for as excellent a making as Troylus of 
Chaucer, yet shoulde they not straight-waies be counted 
madde therefore ? " (Erasmus's Praise of Folye, sig. h.) 

"If good lyfe," observes Bishop Latimer, "do not insue 
and folowe upon our readinge to the example of other, we 
myghte as well spende that tyme in reading of prophane 
hystories, of Canterburye tales, or a fit of Roben Hode " (Ser- 
mons, sig. A. iiii.) 

The following lines, from a poem in the Hyndford MS. 
compiled in 1568, afford an additional proof of our hero's 
popularity in Scotland : 

" Thair is no story that I of heir, 
Of Johne nor Robene Hude, 
Nor zit of Wallace wicht but weir. 
That me thinkes half so gude, 
As of thre palmaris," &c. 

That the subject was not forgotten in the succeeding age, 
can be testifyed by Drayton, who is elsewhere quoted, and 
in his sixth eclogue makes Gorbo thus address " old Winken 
de Word : " 

* Mr. Warton reads Toby ; and so, perhaps, it may be in former edi- 


" Come, sit we down under this hawthorn-tree, 
The morrow's Hght shall lend us day enough. 
And let us tell of Gawen, or Sir Guy, 
Of Robin Hood, or of old Clem a Clough." 

Richard Johnson, who wrote "The History of Tom 
Thumbe," in prose (London, 1621, i2mo, b. 1.), thus pre- 
faces his work : " My merry muse begets no tales of Guy 
of Warwicke, &c. nor will I trouble my penne with the 
pleasant glee of Robin Hood, little John, the fryer, and his 
Marian ; nor will I call to mind the lusty Finder of Wake- 
field, &c." 

In "The Calidonian Forrest," a sort of allegorical or mystic 
tale, by John Hepwith, gentleman, printed in 1 641, 4to, the 
author says, 

" Let us talke of Robin Hoode, 
And little John in mery Shirewoode," &c.* 

Of one very ancient, and undoubtedly once very popular, 
song this single line is all that is now known to exist : 

* Honest Barnaby, i.e. Richard Brathwayle, who wrote or travelled 
about 1640, was well acquainted with our hero's story. 

" Veni Nottingham tyrones 
Sherwoodenses sunt latrones. 
Instar Robin Hood, & servi 
Scarlet & Joannis Parvi ; 
Passim, sparsim, peculantur, 
Cellis, sylvis depraedantur." 

*' Thence to Nottingham, where rovers, 
Highway riders, Sherwood drovers. 
Like old Robin Hood and Scarlet, 
Or like Little John his varlet ; 
Here and there they shew them doughty. 
In cells and woods to get their booty." 

Whitlock relates that " the [parliament] committee who carried the 
propositions of peace to Oxford, had the king's answer sealed up and sent 
to them. They, upon advice together, thought it not fit for them to 
receive an answer in that manner . . . and made an address to his majesty 
that they might know what his answer was, and have a copy of it : to 
which his majesty replied. What is that to you, who are but to carry 
what I send, and if I will send the song of Robin Hood and Little John, 
you must carry it? To which the commissioners only said, that the 
business about which they came was of somewhat more consequence than 
that song" {Memorials^ p. 115). 


"Eobin l^ooti in iSarnsJale stooti." 

However, though but a line, it is of the highest authority in 
Westminster Hall, where, in order to the decision of a knotty 
point, it has been repeatedly cited, in the most solemn man- 
ner, by grave and learned judges. 

M. 6 Jac. B. R. Witham v. Barker, Yelv. 147. Trespass, 
for breaking plaintif 's close, &c. Plea. Liberum tenementum 
of Sir John Tyndall, and justification as his servant and by his 
command. Replication, That it is true it is his freehold, 
but that long before the time when &c. he leased to plaintif 
at will, who entered and was possessed until, &c. traversing, 
that defendant entered, &c. by command of Sir John. De- 
murrer : and adjudged against plaintif, on the ground of the 
replication being bad, as not setting forth any seisin or pos- 
session in Sir John, out of which a lease at will could be de- 
rived. For a title made by the plea or replication should be 
certain to all intents, because it is traversable. Here, there- 
for, he should have stated Sir John's seisin, as well as the lease 
at will; which is not done here: " ntES tout un COtne tl XlSt 
replie Robin Whood in Barnwood stood, absque hoc q ijcf. 
p COmtnantJCtncnt Siv John. Quod nota. Per Fenner, Wil- 
liams ct Crook justices sole en court* Bt jutigment lont 
accordant. Yelv. p ticf." 

In the case of Bush v. Leake, B. R. Trin. 23 G. 3, BuUer, 
justice, cited the case of Coulthurst v. Coulthurst, C. B. 
Pasch. 12 G. 3 (an action on bond), and observed, "There 
a case in Yelverton was alluded to, where the court said, you 
might as well say, by way of inducement to a traverse, Robin 
Hood in Barnwood stood." 

It is almost unnecessary to observe, because it will be 
shortly proved, that Barnwood, in the preceding quotations, 
ought to be Barnsdale.* With respect to Whood, the reader 

* There is, in fact, such a place as Barnwood forest, in Buckingham- 
shire ; but no one, except Mr. Hearne, has hitherto supposed that part 
of the country to have been frequented by our hero. Barnwood, in the 
case reported by Yelverton, has clearly arisen from a confusion of Barns- 
dale and green wood. *' Robin Hood in the greenwood stood " was like- 
wise the beginning of an old song now lost (see pes ^, p. 197) : and it is 
not a little remarkable that Jefferies, serjeant, on the trial of Piikiugton 


will see, under Note 19, a remarkable proof of the antiquity 
of that pronunciation, which actually prevails in the metro- 
polis at this day. See also the word "whodes" in Note 34. 
So, likewise, Bale, in his Acies of English Votaries, 1560, 
says, ** the monkes had their cowles, caprones or whodes ; " 
and in Stow's Survey, 1598, p. 120, have "a fooles whoode." 
This celebrated and important line occurs as the first of a 
foolish mock-song, inserted in an old mortality, intitled "A 
new interlude and a mery of the nature of the iiii elementes," 
supposed to have been printed by John Rastall about 1520; 
where it is thus introduced : 

" Hu[manyte]. let us some lusty balet syng. 

Vng\norance\ Nay, syr, by the lievyn kyng : 
For me thynkylh it servyth for no thyng, 
All suche pevysh prykeryd song. 
Hu. Pes, man, pryk-song may not be dyspysyd, 
For therwith God is wellplesyd. 

Ytig. Is God well pleasyd, trowest thou, therby ? 
Nay, nay, for there is no reason why. 
For is it not as good to say playnly 
Gyf me a spade, 

As gyf me a spa ve va ve va ve vade ? 
But yf thou wylt have a song that is good, 
I have one of Robyn Hode, 
The best that ever was made. 

and others, for a riot, in 1683, by a similar confusion, quotes the line in 
question thus : 

"Robin Hood upon Greendale stood " (State-trials, iii. 634). 

A third corruption has taken place in Parker, p. 131 (King v. Cotton), 
though expressly cited from Yelverton, viz. 

" Robin Hood in Barnwell stood." 

The following most vulgar and indecent rime, current among the pea- 
santry in the North of England, may have been intended to ridicule the 
perpetual repetition of " Robin Hood in greenwood stood : " 

Robin Hood 

In green-wood stood, 

With his back against a tree ; 
He fell flat 
Into a cow-plat. 

And all besh— n was he 


Hu. Then a feleshyp, let us here it. 

Yng. But there is a bordon, thou must bere it, 

Or ellys it wyll not be. 
Hu. Than begyn, and care not for . . . , 

Downe downe downe, &c. 

Yng. Robyn Hode in Barnysdale stode, 

And lent hym tyl a niapyll thystyll ; 

Than cam our lady & swete saynt Andrewe ; 

Slepyst thou, wakyst thou, Geffrey Coke?* 

A c. wynter the water was depe, 
I can not tell you how brode ; 
He toke a gose nek in his hande, 
And over the water he went. 

He start up to a thystell top, 
And cut hym downe a holyn clobbe ; 
He stroke the wren-betwene the hornys, 
That fyre sprange out of the pygges tayle. 

Jak boy is thy bow i-broke, 
Or hath any man done the wryguldy wrange ? 
He plukkyd muskyllys out of a wyllowe. 
And put them in to his sachell. 

Wylkyn was an archer good, 
And well coude handell a spade ; 
He toke his bend bowe in his hand, 
And set him downe by the fyre. 

He toke with hym Ix. bowes and ten, 
A pese of befe, another of baken. 
Of all the byrdes in mery Englond, 
So merely pypys the mery bottel." 

"The lives, stories, and giftes of men which are contained 
in the bible, they [the papists] read as thinges no more per- 
taining unto them than a tale of Robin Hood " (Tyndale, 
Prologue to the prophecy of Jonas, about 1531). 

Gwalter Lynne, printer, in his dedication to Ann, Duchess 
of Somerset, of "The true beliefe in Christ and his sacra- 
mentes," 1550, saye, "I woulde wyshe tharfore that al men, 

* It is possible that, amid these absurdities, there may be other lines 
of the old song of Robin Hood, which is the only reason for reviving 

" O sleepst thou, or wakst thou, JefiFery Cooke?" 

occurs, likewise, in a medley of a similar description, in Pammelia 


women, and chyldren, would read it. Not as they haue bene 
here tofore accustomed to reade the fained storyes of Robin- 
hode, Clem of the Cloughe, wyth such lyke to passe the tyme 
wythal," &c. 

In 1562, John Aide had license to print "a ballad of 
Robyn god," a mistake, it is probable, for Robyn Hod. 

Alexander Hume, minister of Logic, about 1599, says in 
one of his "Hymnes or Sacred Songs," printed in that year, 

-" much to blame are those of carnal brood, 

Who loath to taste of intellectual food, 
Yet surfeit on old tales of Robin Hood." 

Complaint of Scotland, Edin. 1801, Dissertation, p. 221. 

" Exclude the scriptures, and bid them read the story 
Of Robin Hood and Guy, which was both tall and stout, 
And Bevis of Southampton, to seek the matter out. 
Suffer all slander against God and his truth, 
And praise the old fashion in king Arthur's days, 
Of abbays and mona>-teries how it is great ruth 
To have them plucked down, and so the eldest says ; 
And how it was merry when Robin Hood's plays 
Was in every town, the morrice and the fool, 
The maypole and the drum, to bring the calf from school, 
With Midge, Madge and Marion, about the pole to dance, 
And Stephen, that tall stripling, to lead Volans dance, 
With roguing Gangweeke, a goodly remembrance, 
With beads in every hand, our prayers stood by tale : 
This was a merry work, talk among our meany, 
And then of good eggs ye might have twenty for a penny." 

L. Ramsey's Practice of the Divell, b. 1. 

All the entire poems and songs known to be extant will 
be found in the following collection ; but many more may 
be traditionally preserved in different parts of the country 
which would have added considerably to its value.* That 

* In " Heraclitus ridens, or a discourse between Jest and Earnest." 
a periodical paper against the Whigs, published in 1681, and collected 
and republished in 1713 (No. 34), Jest begins singing : 

"Bills, bows, and axes, quoth Robin Hood, 

But I have not time to tell ; . 



some of these identical pieces, or others of the like nature, 
were great favourites with the common people in the time 
of Queen Elizabeth, though not much esteemed, it would 
seem, by the refined critic, may, in addition to the testimonies 
already cited, be inferred from a passage in Webbe's Discourse 

Yonder's tVie sheriff and his company, 
But I hope all will be well. 

Hei, down, derry, derry, down; " 

and says, "I hope I may sing of old Robin without offending a grand 
jury, or being presented for disuniting Protestants." 

In The Gentleman's Magazine for December 1790 is the first verse of 
a song used by the inhabitants of Helston in Cornwall on the celebration 
of an annual festivity on the 8th of May, called the Furry-day, sup- 
posed Flora's day, not, it is imagined, " as many have thought, in remem- 
brance of some festival instituted in honour of that goddess, but rather 
from the garlands commonly worn on that day." (See the same publi- 
cation for June and October 1790.) This verse was the whole that Mr. 
Urban's correspondent could then recollect, but he thought he might be 
afterwards able "to send all that is known of it, for," he says, "it for- 
merly was very long, but is now much forgotten." The stanza is as fol- 
lows : 

"Robin Hood and Little John 

They are both gone to fair O ; 

And we will go to the merry green-wood, 

To see what they do there O . 
With hel an tow. 
And rum-be-low, 

And cheariiy we'll get up, 

As soon as any day O, 

All for to bring the summer home, 

The summer and the May O." 

" After which," he adds, "there is something about the grey goose wing; 
from all which," he concludes, " the goddess Flora has nothing to say to 
it." She may have nothing to say to the song, indeed, and yet a good 
deal to do with the thing. But the fact is, that the first eight days of 
May, or the first day and the eighth, seem* to have been devoted by the 
Celtic nations to some great religious ceremony. Certain superstitious 
observances of this period still exist in the Highlands of Scotland, where 
it is called the Bel-tein ; Beltan, in that country, being a common term 
for the beginning of May, as " between the Beltans " is a saying signifi- 
cant of the first and eighth days of that month. The games of Robin Hood, 
as we shall elsewhere see, were, for whatever reason, always celebrated 
in May.— N. B. " Hel-an-tow," in the above stanza, should be heave 
and how. Heave and how, and Rumbelow, was an ordinary chorus to 


of English Poetrie, printed in 1586. "If I lette passe," 
says he, "the unaccountable rabble of ryming ballet-makers 
and compylers of sencelesse sonets, who be most busy to 
stufife every stall full of grosse devises and unlearned pam- 
phlets, I trust I shall with the best sort be held excused. 
For though many such can frame an alehouse-song of five 
or sixe score verses, hobbling uppon some tune of a northern 
jygge, or Robyn Hoode, or La lubber, &c. and perhappes 
observe just number of sillables, eyght in one line, sixe in 
an other, and therewithall an A to make a jercke in the ende, 
yet if these might be accounted poets (as it is sayde some of 
them make meanes to be promoted to the lawrell), surely we 
shall shortly have whole swarmes of poets ; and every one 
that can frame a booke in ryme, though, for want of matter, 
it be but in commendations of copper noses, or bottle ale, 
wyll catch at the garlande due to poets : whose potticall 
(poeticall, I should say) heades, I woulde wyshe, at their 
worshipfull comencements, might, in sieede of lawrell, be 
gorgiously garnished with fayre greene barley, in token of 
their good affection to our Englishe malt." The chief object 
of this satire seems to be William Elderton, the drunken 

old ballads, and is at least as ancient as the reign of Edward II., since 
it occurs in the stanza of a Scotish song, preserved by some of our old 
historians, on the battle of Bannockburn. 

To lengthen this long note : Among the Harleian MSS. (num. 367) is 
the fragment of " a tale of Robin Hood dialouge-wise beetweene Watt 
and Jeffry. The morall is the overthrowe of the abbyes ; the like being 
attempted by the Puntane, which is the wolfe, and the politician, which 
is the fox, agaynst thebushops. Robin Hood.bushop ; Adam Bell, abbot; 
Little John, colleagues of the university." This seems to have been a 
common mode of satirising both the old Church and the reformers. In 
another MS. of the same collection (N. 207), written about 1532, is a 
tract entitled "The bancketi of John the reve, unto Peirs Ploughman, 
Laurens Laborer, Thomlyn Tailyor, and Hobb of the Hille, with others ;" 
being, as Mr. Wanley says, a dispute concerning transubstantiation by a 
Roman Catholic. The other, indeed, is much more modern : it alludes 
to the indolence of the abbots, and their falling off from the original purity 
iij which they were placed by the bishops, whom it inclines to praise. 
The object of its satire seems to be the Puritans ; but here it is imperfect, 
though the lines preserved are not wholly destitute of poetical merit. — 
" Robin Hood and the Duke of Lancaster, a ballad, to the tune of The 
Abbot of Canterbury," 1727, is a satire on Sir Robert Walpole. 


ballad -maker, of whose compositions all but one or two have 
unfortunately perished.* 

Most of the songs inserted in the second half of this volume 
were common broad-sheet ballads, printed in black letter, 
with woodcuts, between the Restoration and the Revolution ; 
though copies of some few have been found of an earlier 
date. " Who was the author of the collection intitled Robin 
Hood's Garland, no one," says Sir John Hawkins, "has yet 
pretended to guess. As some of the songs have in them 
more of the spirit of poetry than others, it is probable,'* he 
thinks, **it is the work of various hands : that it has from 
time to time been varied and adapted to the phrase of the 
times," he says, " is certain." None of these songs, it is be- 
lieved, were collected into a garland till after the Restoration ; 
as the earliest that has been met with, a copy of which is in 
the possession of Francis Douce, Esq., was printed by W. 
Thackeray, a noted ballad-monger, in 1670. This, however, 
contains no more than sixteen songs, some of which, very 
falsely as it seems, are said to have been "never before 
printed." "The latest edition of any worth," according to 
Sir John Hawkins, "is that of 1 7 19." None of the old edi- 
tions of this garland have any sort of preface : that prefixed 
to the modern ones, of Bow or Aldermary churchyard, being 

* Chatterton, in his " Memoirs of a Sad Dog," represents " Baron 
Otranto" (meaning the honourable Horace Walpole, now Earl of Orford), 
when on a visit to " Sir Stentor," as highly pleased with Robin Hood's 
ramble, " melodiously chaunted by the knight's groom and dairy-maid, to 
the excellent music of a two-stringed violin and bag-pipe," which tran- 
sported him back " to the age of his favourite hero, Richard the Third ; " 
whereas, says he, " the songs of Robin Hood were not in being till the 
reign of Queen Elizabeth. " This, indeed, may be in a great measure true 
of those which we now have, but there is sufficient evidence of the exis- 
tence and popularity of such-like songs for ages preceding ; and some of 
these, no doubt, were occasionally modernised or new-written, though 
most of them must be allowed to have perished. 

The late Dr. Johnson, in controverting the authenticity of Fingal, a 
composition in which the author, Mr. Macpherson, has made great use 
of some unquestionably ancient Irish ballads, said, " He would undertake 
to write an epick poem on the story of Robin Hood, and half England, 
to whom the names and places he should mention in it are familiar, would 
believe and declare they had heard it from their earliest years" (Bos- 
well's Journal, p. 486). 


taken from the collection of old ballads, 1723, where it is 
placed at the head of Robin Hood's birth and breeding. The 
full title of the last London edition of any note is — " Robin 
Hood's Garland : being a complete history of all the notable 
and merry exploits performed by him and his men on many 
occasions : To which is added a preface [i.e. the one already 
mentioned] giving a more full and particular account of his 
birth, &c., than any hitherto published. [Cut of archers 
shooting at a target.] 

I'll send this arrow from my bow, 

And in a wager will be bound 
To hit the mark aright, although 

It were for fifteen hundred pound. 
Doubt not I'll make the wager good. 
Or ne'er believe bold Robin Hood. 

Adorned with twenty-seven neat and curious cuts adapted to 
the subject of each song. London, Printed and sold by R. 
Marshall, in Aldermary church-yard, Bow-lane." l2mo. 
On the back of the title-page is the following Grub-street 
address : 

" To all gentlemen archers. 
" This garland has been long out of repair, 

Some songs being wanting, of which we give account ; 
For now at last, by true industrious care, 

The sixteen songs to twenty-seven we mount ; 
Which large addition needs must please, I know, 

All the ingenious ' yeomen ' of the bow. 
To read how Robin Hood and Little John, 

Brave Scarlet, Stutely, valiant, bold and free, 
Each of them bravely, fairly play'd the man, 

While they did reign beneath the green-wood tree ; 
Bishops, friars, likewise many more, 
Parted with their gold, for to increase their store, 
But never would they rob or wrong the poor." 

The last seven lines are not by the author of the first six, 
but were added afterwards ; perhaps when the twenty-four 
songs were increased to twenty-seven.* 

* The following note is inserted in the fourth edition of the Reliques 
of Ancient English Poetry, published in July 1795 (vol. i. p. xcvii.) : 

"Of the 24 songs in what is now called 'Robin Hood's Garland,' 
many are so modern as not to be found in Pepys's collection, compleied 


(28) — ^^ has given rise to divers proverbs.^^'\ Proverbs, in 
all countries, are, generally speaking, of very great antiquity; 
and therefore it will not be contended that those concerning 
our hero are the oldest we have. It is highly probable, 
however, that they originated in or near his own time, and 
of course have existed for upwards of 500 years, which is no 
modern date. They are here arranged, not, perhaps, accord- 
ing to their exact chronological order, but by the age of the 
authorities they are taken from. 

I. " Good even, good Robin Hood." 

The allusion is to civility extorted by fear. It is preserved 
by Skelton, in that most biting satire against Cardinal 
Wolsey, "Why come ye not to court?" (Works, 1736, p. 

" He is set so hye, 
In his hierarchy, 

That in the chambre of stars 
All matters there he mars ; 
Clapping his rod on the horde, 
No man dare speake a word ; 
For he hath all the saying, 
Without any renaying : 

only in 1700. In the [editor's] folio MS. are ancient fragments of the fol- 
lowing, viz, — Robin Hood and the beggar. — Robin Hood and the butcher. 
— Robin Hood and fryer Tucke. — Robin Hood and the pindar. — Robin 
Hood and queen Catharine, in two parts. — Little John and the four beg- 
gars, and " Robine Hood his death." This last, which is very curious, 
has no resemblance to any that have yet been published ; [it is probably 
num. xxviii. of part ii.], and the others are extremely different from 
the printed copies ; but they unfortunately are in the beginning of the 
MS. where half of every leaf hath been torn away." 

As this MS. " contains several songs relating to the civil war in the 
last century," the mere circumstance of its comprising fragments of the 
above ballads is no proof of a higher antiquity ; any more than its not 
containing *' one that alludes to the Restoration" proves its having been 
compiled before that period ; or than, because some of these 24 songs are 
not to be found in Pepys's collection, they are more modern than 1700. 
If the MS. could be collated, it would probably turn out that many of its 
contents have been inaccurately and unfaithfully transcribed, by some 
illiterate persons, from printed copies still extant, and, consequently, that 
it is, so far, of no authority. See the advertisement prefixed. 


He rolleth in his recordes, 

He saith. How say ye my lordes? 

Is not my reason good ? 

Good even, good Robin Hood."* 

2. "Many men talk of Robin Hood that never shot in his 

"That is, many discourse (or prate rather) of matters 
wherein they have no skill or experience. This proverb is 
now extended all over England, though originally of Not- 
tinghamshire extraction, where Robin Hood did principally 
reside in Sherwood forest. He was an arch-robber, and 
withal an excellent archer ; though surely the poet f gives a 
twang to the loose of his arrow, making him shoot one a 
cloth-yard long, at full forty score mark, for compass never 
higher than the breast, and within less than a foot of the 
mark. But herein our author hath verified the proverb, 
talking at large of Robin Hood, in whose bow he never shot " 
(Fuller's Worthies, p. 315). 

•* One may justly wonder," adds the facetious writer, 
"this archer did not at last hit the mark, I mean, come to 
the gallows for his many robberies." 

The proverb is mentioned, and given as above, by Sir 
Edward Coke in his 3d Institute, p. 197. See also Note 
26. It is thus noticed by Jonson in ** The king's entertain- 
ment at Welbeck in Nottinghamshire, 1633 : " 

"This is father Fitz-Ale, herald of Derby, &c. 

He can fly o'er hills and dales, 
And report you more odd tales 
Of our out law Robin Hood, 
That revell'd here in Sherewood, 
And more stories of him show, 
(Tiiough he ne'er shot in his bow) 
Than au' men or believe, or know." 

* Mr. Warton has mistaken and misprinted this line so as to make it 
absolute nonsense. 

" Is not my reason good ? 
Good — even good — Robin Hood." 

(His. En. po. vol. ii.) 
t Drayton's Polyolbion, song 26, p. 122 (supra, p. vii.) 


We likewise meet with it in Epigrams, &c., 1654 : 

" In Vertutem. 
" Vertue we praise, but practice not her good, 
^ (Athenian-like) we act not what we know ; 

So many men doe talk of Robin Hood, 
Who never yet shot arrow in his bow." 

On the back of a ballad in Anthony a Wood's collection 
he has written, 

*' There be some that prate 
Of Robin Hood, and of his bow, 
Which never shot therein, I trow." 

Ray gives it thus : 

" Many talk of Robin Hood, that never shot in his bow. 
And many talk of little John, that never did him know :" 

which Kelly has varied, but without authority. 

Camden's printer has separated the lines, as distinct pro- 
verbs (Remains, 1674) : 

" Many speak of Robin Hood that never shot in his bow. 
" Many a man talks of little John that never did him know." 

This proverb likewise occurs in The downfall of Robert 
earle of Huntington, 1600, and is alluded to in a scarce and 
curious old tract intitled "The contention betwyxte Church- 
yeard and Camell, upon David Dycer's Dreame," &c. 1560, 
4to, b. 1. 

" Your sodain stormes and thundre claps, your boasts and braggs so 
loude : 
Hath doone no harme thogh Robin Hood spake with you in a cloud. 
Go learne againe of litell Jhon, to shute in Robyn Hods bowe. 
Or Dicars dreame shall be unhit, and all his whens, I trowe." * 

The Italians appear to have a similar saying : 
Molti parlan di Orlando 
Chi non viddero mai sue brando. 

* In Churchyard's " Replication onto Camel's Objections " he tells the 
latter : 

" Your knowledge is great, your judgement is good, 
The most of your study hath ben of Robyn Hood ; 
And Bevys of Hampton, and syr Launcclot de Lake, 
Hath taught you full oft your verses to make." 


3. "To overshoot Robin Hood." 

" And lastly and chiefly, they cry out with open mouth as 
if they had overshot Robin Hood, that Plato banished them 
[i.e. poets] out of his commonwealth" (Sir P. Sidney's De- 
fence of Poesie). 

4. " Tales of Robin Hood are good [enough] for fools." 
This proverb is inserted in Camden's Remains, printed 

originally in 1605 ; but the word in brackets is supplied from 

5. "To sell Robin Hood's pennyworths." 

"It is spoken of things sold under half their value ; or if 
you will, half sold, half given. Robin Hood came lightly by 
his ware, and lightly parted therewith ; so that he could 
afford the length of his bow for a yard of velvet. "Whither- 
soever he came, he carried a fair along with him ; chapmen 
crowding to buy his stollen commodities. But seeing the 
receiver is as bad as the thief, and such buyers are as bad as 
receivers, the cheap pennyworths of plundered goods may in 
fine prove dear enough to their consciences" (Fuller's Wor- 
thies, p. 315). 

This saying is alluded to in the old North-country song of 
Randal a Barnaby : 

"All men said, it became me well, 
And Robin Hood's pennyworths I did sell." 

6. "Come, turn about, Robin Hood." 

Implying that to challenge or defy our hero must have 
been the tie plus ultra of courage. It occurs in " Wit and 
Drollery," 1661 : 

*' O love, whose power and might. 
No creature ere withstood, 
Thou forcest me to write, 

Come turn about Robin-hood.** 

7. " As crook'd as Robin Hood's bow." 

That is, we are to conceive, when bent by himself. The 
following stanza of a modern Irish song is the only authority 
for this proverb that has been met with : 

'* The next with whom I did engage, 
It was an old woman worn with age, 



Her teeth were like tobacco pegs, 

Besides she had two bandy legs, 

Her back more crook'd than Robin Hood's bow, 

Purblind and decrepid, unable to go ; 

Altho' her years were sixty-three, 

She smil'd at the humours of Soosthe Bue." 

8. " To go round by Robin Hood's barn." 

This saying, which now first appears in print, is used to 
imply the going of a short distance by a circuitous method, 
or the farthest way about. 

(29) — " to swear by him, or some of his companions, appears 
to have been a usual practice."^ The earliest instance of 
this practice occurs in a pleasant story among " Certaine 
merry tales of the mad-men of Gottam," compiled in the 
reign of Henry VHI. by Dr. Andrew Borde, an eminent 
physician of that period, which here follows verbatim, as taken 
from an old edition in black letter, without date (in the 
Bodleian Library), being the first tale in the book. 

•' There was two men of Gottam, and the one of them was 
going to the market at Nottingham to buy sheepe, and the 
other came from the market ; and both met together upon 
Nottingham bridge. Well met, said the one to the other. 
Whither be yee going? said he that came from Nottingham. 
Marry, said he that was going thither, I goe to the market to 
buy sheepe. Buy sheepe ! said the other, and which way 
wilt thou bring them home ? Marry, said the other, I will 
bring them over this bridge. By Robin Hood, said he that 
came from Nottingham, but thou shalt not. By Maid Mar- 
rion, said he that was going thitherward, but I will. Thou 
shalt not, said the one. I will, said the other. Ter here ! 
said the one. Shue there ! said the other. Then they beate 
their staves against the ground, one against the other, as there 
had beene an hundred sheepe betwixt them. Hold in, said 
the one. Beware the leaping over the bridge of my sheepe, 
said the other. I care not, said the other. They shall not 
come this way, said the one. But they shall, said the other. 
Then said the other, & if that thou make much to doe, I will 
put my finger in thy mouth. A turd thou wilt, said the other. 
And as they were at that contention, another man of Gottam 


came from the market, with a sacke of meale upon a horse, 
and seeing and hearing his neighbours at strife for sheepe, 
and none betwixt them, said, Ah fooles, will you never learn 
wit ? Helpe me, said he that had the meale, and lay my sack 
upon my shoulder. They did so ; and he went to the one 
side of the bridge, and unloosed the mouth of the sacke, and 
did shake out all his meale into the river. Now, neighbours, 
said the man, how much meale is there in my sacke now ? 
Marry, there is none at all, said they. Now, by my faith, 
said he, even as much wit is in your two heads, to strive for 
that thing you have not. Which was the wisest of all these 
three persons, judge you."* 

"By the bare scalp of Robin Hood's fat frier," is an oath 
put by Shakespeare into the mouth of one of his outlaws in 
the Two Gentlemen of Verona, act iv. scene i. "Robin 
Hood's fat frier " is Frier Tuck ; a circumstance of which 
Doctor Johnson, who set about explaining that author with a 
very inadequate stock of information, was perfectly ignorant. 

(30) — " his songs have been preferred^ not only on the most 
solemn occasion to the psalms of Davids but in fact to the 
New Testament.''} ["On Friday, March 9th, 1733] was 
executed at Northampton William Alcock for the murder of 
his wife. He never own'd the fact, nor was at all concern'd 
at his approaching death, refusing the prayers and assistance 
of any persons. In the morning he drank more than was 
sufficient, yet sent and paid for a pint of wine, which being 
deny'd him, he would not enter the cart before he had his 
money return'd. On his way to the gallows he sung part of 
an old song of Robin Hood, with the chorus, Derry, derry, 
down,t &c., and swore, kick'd and spurn'd at every person 

* See the original story, in which two brothers, of whom one had 
wished for as many oxen as he saw stars, the other for a pasture as wide 
as the firmament, kill each other about the pasturage of the oxen (from 
Camer. oper. subscis. cent, i, c. 92, p. 429), in Wanley's Little World of 
Man, edition of 1774, p. 426. Camerarius, it seems, had the story from 
Scardeonius <y^ c/rt77V civibus Patavinis, whence it is also related in the 
notes to Upton de studio ntilitari; and an older, of the like kind, is in the 
Facetiae of Poggius. 

t " Derry down is the burden of the old songs of the Druids sung by 
their Bards and Vaids, to call the people to their religious assemblys in 


that laid hold of the cart ; and before he was turn'd off, took 
off his shoes, to avoid a well-known proverb ; and being told 
by a person in the cart with him, it was more proper for him 
to read, or hear some body read to him, than so vilely to swear 
and sing, he struck the book out of the person's hands, and 
went on damning the spectators, and calling for wine. Whilst 
psalms and prayers were performing at the tree, he did little 
but talk to one or other, desiring some to remember him, others 
to drink to his good journey ; and to the last moment declared 
the injustice of his case " (Gentleman's Magazine, vol. iii. 

p. 154). 

To this maybe added, that at Edinburgh, in 1565, "^Sandy 
Stevin menstrall [i.e. musician] was convinced of blasphemy, 
alledging, That he would give no moir credit to The new 
testament, then to a tale of Robin Hood, except it wer con- 
firmed be the doctours of the church " (Knox's Historic of 
the Reformation in Scotland, Edin. 1732, p. 368). 

William Roy, in a bitter satire against Cardinal Wolsey, 
intitled, " Rede me and be nott wrothe For I saye nothynge 
but trothe," printed abroad, about 1525, speaking of the 
bishops, says : 

"Their frantyke foly is so pevisshe, 
That they contempne in Englisshe, 

To have the new testament ; 
But as for tales of Robyn Hode, 
With wother jestes nether honest nor goode, 

They have none impediment." 

To the same effect is the following passage in another old 
libel upon the priests, intitled " I playne Piers which can not 
flatter, a plowe-man men me call," &c. b. 1. n. d. printed in 
the original as prose : 

" No Christen booke, 
Maye thou on looke, 

Yf thou be an Engllshe strunt, 

the groves. Doire in Irish (the old Punic) is a grove : corrupted into 
derry. A famous Druid grove and academy at the place since called 
Londonderry from thence."— MS. note by Dr. Stukeley, in his copy of 
Robin Hood's Garland. "Paul, Paul, thou art beside thyself J" 


Thus dothe alyens us loutte, 
By that ye spreade aboute, 

After that old sorte and wonte. 
You allowe they save, 
Legenda aurea, 

Roben Hoode, Bevys, & Gower, 
And all bagage besyd. 
But God's word ye may not abyde, 

These lyese are your churche 'dower.'" 

See also before, p. Ixxii.* 

So in Laurence Ramsey's " Practise of the Divell " (n. d. 
4to, b. L): 

" Exclude the scriptures, and byd them reade the storie 
Of Robin Hood, and Guye, which was both tall and stout, 
And Bevis of Southampton, to seeke the matter out." 

(31) ^^ His sei-vice to the Word of God.''''\ "I came once 
myselfe," says Bishop Latimer (in his sixth sermon before 
King Edward VL), " to a place, riding on a jorney homeward 
from London, and I sent worde over night into the towne 
that I would preach there in the morning, bicause it was a 
holy day, and methought it was an holydayes worke. The 
churche stode in my way ; and I tooke my horse and my 
company and went thither (I thought I should have found a 
great companye in the churche), and when I came there, the 
churche dore was faste locked. I taried there half an hower 
and more ; at last the keye was founde ; and one of the 
parishe commes to me, and sayes. Sir, this is a busie day 
with us, we cannot heare you ; it is Robin Hoodes daye. 
The parishe are gone abroad to gather for Robin Hoode, I 
pray you let them not. I was fayne there to geve place to 
Robin Hoode. I thought my rochet shoulde have bene re- 
garded, thoughe I were not ; but it woulde not serve, it was 
fayne to geve place to Robin Hodes men. 

* Mr. Boyd, the famoua preacher in Childsdale, finding that several 
of his hearers went away after the forenoon sermon, had this expression 
in his afternoon prayers : " Now, Lord, thou seest that many people go 
away from hearing thy Word ; but had we told them stories of Robin 
Hood or Davie Lindsay, they had stayed ; and yet none of these are near 
so good as thy Word that I preach " (Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 
1714, p. 156). 


" It is no laughyng matter, my frendes, it is a weepyng 
matter, a heavy matter, under the pretence for gatherynge for 
Robin Hoode, a traytour * and a theefe, to put out a preacher, 
to have his office lesse esteemed, to preferre Robin Hoode 
before the ministration of God's worde, and all this hath come 
of unpreaching prelates. Thys realme hath bene ill provided 
for, that it hath had suche corrupte judgementes in it, to 
preferre Robin Hoode to God's worde. If the bishoppes 
had bene preachers, there shoulde never have bene any such 
thing," &c. 

(32) — '■^ may be called the patron of archery. "'\ The bow 
and arrow makers, in particular, have always held his memory 
in the utmost reverence. Thus, in the old ballad of London's 
Ordinary : 

" The hosiers will dine at the Leg, 

The drapers at the sign of the Brush, 
The fletchers to Robin Hood will go, 
And the spendthrift to Beggar 's-bush."t 

The picture of our hero is yet a common sign in the country, 
and, before hanging-signs were abolished in London, must 
have been still more so in the City ; there being at present 
no less than a dozen alleys, courts, lanes, &c., to which he or 
it has given a name. (See Baldwin's New Complete Guide, 
1770.) The Robin Hood Society, a club or assembly for 
public debate, or school for oratory, is well known. It was 
held at a public-house, which had once borne the sign, and 
still retained the name of this great man, in Butcher Row, 
near Temple Bar. 

It is very usual in the North of England for a publican 
whose name fortunately happens to be John Little to have 

* The Bishop grows scurrilous. "I never heard, "says Coke, attorney- 
general, " that Robin Hood was a traitor, they say he was an outlaw." 
(State Trials, i. 218. — Raleigh had said, "Is it not strange for me to 
make myself a Robin Hood, a Kett, or a Cade? ") 

t This ballad seems to have been written in imitation of a song in Hey- 
wood's Rape of Lucrece, 1630, beginning — 

*' The gentrj' to the King's-head, 
The nobles to the crown," &c. 


the sign of Robin Hood and his constant attendant, with this 
quibbling subscription : 

"You gentlemen, and yeomen good, 
Come in and drink with Robin Hood ; 
If Robin Hood be not at home, 
Come in and drink with Little John."* 

An honest countryman, admiring the conceit, adopted the 
lines, with a slight, but, as he thought, necessary alteration, 
viz. : 

*' If Robin Hood be not at home. 
Come in and drink with— Simon Webster." 

Drayton, describing the various ensigns or devices of the 
English counties at the battle of Agincourt, gives to 

** Old Nottingham, an archer clad in green, 
Under a tree with his drawn bow that stood, 
Which in a chequer'd flag far off was seen ; 
It was the picture of old Robin Hood." 

(33) — " ^^^ supernatural powers he is, in some parts, 
supposed to have possessedy'\ *' In the parish of Halifax is an 
immense stone or rock, supposed to be a Druidical monument, 
there called Robin Hood's pennystone, which he is said to 
have used to pitch with at a mark for his amusement. 
There is likewise another of these stones, of .several tons 
weight, which the country-people will tell you he threw off 
an adjoining hill with a spade as he was digging. Every 
thing of the marvellous kind being here attributed to Robin 
Hood, as it is in Cornwall to King Arthur" (Watson's History 
of Halifax, p. 27). 

At Birchover, six miles south of Bakewell, and four from 
Haddon, in Derbyshire, among several singular groups of 
rocks, are some stones called Robin Hood's stride, being two 

* In Arnold's Essex Harmony (ii. 98) he gives the inscription, as a 
catch for three voices, of his own composition, thus : 
"My beer is stout, my ale is good. 
Pray stay and drink with Robin Hood ; 
If Robin Hood abroad is gone, 
Pray stay and drink with Little John." 


of the highest and most remarkable. The people say Robin 
Hood lived here. 

(34) — " having a festival allotted to him, and solemn games 
instituted in honour of his memory^'"' 6^^.] These games, 
which were of great antiquity and different kinds, appear to 
have been solemnised on the first and succeeding days of May, 
and to owe their original establishment to the cultivation and 
improvement of the manly exercise of archery, which was 
not, in former times, practised merely for the sake of amuse- 

*'I find," says Stow, "that in the moneth of May, the 
citizens of London, of all estates, lightlie in every parish, or 
sometimes two or three parishes joyning together, had their 
severall mayinges, and did fetch in Maypoles, with divers 
warlike shewes, with good archers, morrice-dancers, and other 
devices for pastime all the day long : and towards the evening 

they had stage-playes and bonefires in the streetes 

These greate Mayinges and Maygames, made by the gover- 
nors and masters of this citie, with the triumphant setting up 
of the greate shafte (a principall Maypole in Cornhill, before 
the parish church of S. Andrew, therefore called Undershafte) 
by meane of an insurrection of youthes against alianes on 
Mayday 15 17, the ninth of Henry the Eight, have not beene 
so freely used as afore" (Survey of London, 1598, p. 72). 

The disuse of these ancient pastimes, and the consequent 
"neglect of archerie," are thus pathetically lamented by 
Richard NiccoUs, in his London's Artillery, 1616 : 

** How is it that our London hath laid downe 
This worthy practise, which was once the crowne 
Of all her pastime, when her Robin Hood 
Had wont each yeare, when May did clad the wood, 
With liistie greene, to lead his yong men out, 
Whose brave demeanour, oft when they did shoot, 
Invited royall princes from their courts, 
Into the wilde woods to behold their sports ! 
Who thought it then a manly sight and trim, A description 

To see a youth of cleane compacted lim, of one drawing 

Who, with a comely grace, in his left hand a bow. 

Holding his bow, did take his stedfast stand. 
Setting his left leg somewhat foorth before. 
His arrow with his right hand nocking sure. 


Not stooping, nor yet standing straight upright, 
Then, with his left hand little 'hove his sight, 
Stretching his arm out, with an easie strength, 
To draw an arrow of a yard in length." * 

The lines, 

" Invited royal! princes from their courts 
Into the wild woods to behold their sports," 

may be reasonably supposed to allude to Henry VIII., who 
appears to have been particularly attached, as well to the 
exercise of archery as to the observance of May. Some 
short time after his coronation, says Hall, he "came to 
Westminster with the quene, and all their traine : and on a 
tyme being there, his grace therles of Essex, Wilshire, and 
other noble menne, to the numbre of twelve, came sodainly 
in a mornyng into the quenes chambre, all appareled in 
short cotes of Kentish Kendal, with hodes on their heddes, 
and hosen of the same, every one of them his bowe and 
arrowes, and a sworde and a bucklar, like outlawes, or 
* Robyn' Hodes men ; whereof the quene, the ladies, and al 
other there were abashed, aswell for the straunge sight, as 
also for their sodain commyng : and after certayn daunces 
and pastime made thei departed" (Hen. VIII. fo. 6, b). 
The same author gives the following curious account of " A 
maiynge" in the 7th year of this monarch (1516) : "The 
kyng & the quene, accompanied with many lordes & ladies, 
roade to the high grounde on Shoters hil to take the open 
ayre, and as they passed by the way they espied a company 
of tall yomen, clothed all in grene, with grene whodes & 
bowes and arrowes, to the number of ii. C. Then one of 
them whiche called hymselfe Robyn Hood, came to the 
kyng, desyring hym to se his men shore, & the kyng was 
content. Then he whisteled, and all the ii. C. archers shot 
& losed at once ; and then he whisteled again, and they 
likewyse shot agayne ; their arrowes whisteled by craft of the 

* This description is finely illustrated by an excellent woodcut at the 
head of one of Anthony a Wood's old ballads in the Ashmoleian Museum. 
The frontispiece to Gervas Markham's Archerie, 1634, is likewise a man 
drawing a bow. 



head, so that the noyes was straunge and great, and muche 
pleased the kyng, the quene, and all the company. All 
these archers were of the kynges garde, and had thus appa- 
reled themselves to make solace to the kynge. Then Robyn 
Hood desyred the kyng and quene to come into the grene 
wood, and to se how the outlawes lyve. The kyng de- 
maunded of the quene and her ladyes, if they, durst adven- 
ture to go into the wood with so many ouilawes. Then the 
quene said, if it pleased hym, she was content. Then the 
homes blewe tyll they came to the wood under Shoters-hill, 
and there was an arber made of bowes, with a hal, and a 
great chamber, and an inner chamber, very well made and 
covered with floures and swete herbes, which the kyng muche 
praised. Then sayd Robyn Hood, Sir, outlawes brekefastes 
is venyson, and therefore you must be content with such fare 
as we use. Then the kyng and quene sate doune, and were 
served with venyson and vyne by Robyn Hood and his men, 
to their great contentacion. Then the kyng departed and 
his company, and Robyn Hood and his men them con- 
duicted : and as they were returnyng, there met with them 
two ladyes in a ryche chariot drawen with v. horses, and every 
horse had his name on his head, and on every horse sat a 
lady with her name written .... and in the chayre sate the 
lady May, accompanied with lady Flora, richely appareled ; 
and they saluted the kyng with diverse goodly songes, and so 
brought hym to Grenewyche. At this maiyng was a greate 
number of people to beholde, to their great solace and 
confort" (fo. Ivi. b). 

That this sort of May-games was not peculiar to London 
appears from a passage in Richard Robinson's " Third asser- 
tion Englishe historicall, frendly in favour and furtherance 
of English archery : " * 

* See "The auncient order societie and unitie laudable of prince 
Arthure and his knightly armory of the round table . . . Translated and 
collected by R. R. London, Imprinted by John Wolfe dwelling in Dis- 
taffe-lane neere the signe of the Castle, 1583." 410, b. 1. It appears 
from this publication that on the revival of London archery in Queen 
Elizabeth's time, " the worshipfuU socyety of archers," instead of calling 
themselves after Robin Hood and his companions, took the names of 
" the magnificent prince Arthure and his knightly traine of the .round 


" And, heare because of archery I do by penne explane, 
The use, the proffet, and the praise, to England by the same, 
Myselfe remembreth of a childe in contreye native mine, (i553) 

A May-game was of Robyn Hood, and of his traine that time, (7. E. 6.) 
To traine up young men, stripplings, and eche other younger childe, 
In shooting, yearely this with solempne feast was by the guylde 
Or brotherhood of townsmen don, with sport, with joy, and love. 
To proffet which in present tyme, and afterward did prove." 

The games of Robin Hood seem to have been occasionally 
of a dramatic cast. Sir John Paston, in the time of King 
Edward IV,, complaining of the ingratitude of his servants, 
mentions one who had promised never to desert him, 
"and ther uppon," says he, *'I have kepyd hym thys iii yer 
to pleye seynt Jorge, and Robyn Hod and the sheryf off 
Notyjigham,* and now when I wolde have good horse he is 
goon into Bernysdale, and I withowt a keeper." 

In some old accounts of the churchwardens of St. Helen's 
at Abingdon, Berks, for the year 1556, there is an entry For 
setting up Robin Hoodes Bower; I suppose, says War- 
table." It is, probably, to one of the annual meetings of this identical 
society that Master Shallow alludes in the Second Part of Kins; Henry 
JF. "I remember," says he, "at Mile-end Green [their usual place of 
exercise], — I was then Sir Dagonet in Arthur's shew," &c. (See also 
Steevens's Shakespeare, 1793, ix. 142.) The successors of the above 
"friendly and frank fellowship" assumed the ridiculous appellations of 
Duke of Shoreditch, Marquis of Cleikenwell, Earl of Pankridge, &c. 
See Wood's Bowman's Glory, 1682. 

* Meaning that his sole or chief employment had been in Christmas 
or May games, Whitsun-ales, and such like idle diversions. See Ori- 
ginal Letters, &c., ii. 134. 

In an old circular woodcut, preserved on the title of Robin Hood's 
Garland, 1670, as well as on that of Adam Bell, &c., printed at New- 
castle ill 1772, is the apparent representation of a May-game, consisting 
of ihe following personages : i. A bishop. 2. Robin Hood. 3. The 
potter (or beggar). 4. Little John. 5. Frier Tuck. 6. Maid Marian. 
Figures 2 and 4 are distinguished by their bows and different size. The 
frier holds out a cross ; and Marian has flowing hair, and wears a sort 
of coronet. But the execution of the whole is too rude to merit a copy. 

At Lord Fiizwilliams's at Richmond there is, or lately was, a curious 
painting by Vinckenbooms, representing old Richmond palace, with a 
group of morris-dancers. It has been badly engraved by Godfrey, who 
reduced the figures to too small a scale. Mr. Douce has a tracing from 
the original picture with all the figures distinctly marked. See a poem 
at the end of Hall's Downfall of May-games, 1661, 410. 


ton, for a parish interlude. (See History of English Poetry, 
ii. 175-)* 

* The precise purpose or meaning of setting up Robin Hood's bower 
has not been satisfactorily ascertained. Mr. Hearne, in an attempt to 
derive the name of "The Chiltern country" (ciirenn, Saxon) from 
silex, a flint, has the following words: "Certe Silcestriam, &c. i.e. 
Certainly Silchester, in Hampshire, signifies nothing but the city of 
flints (that is, a city composed or built of flint-stones). And what is 
more, in that very Chiltern country you may frequently see houses built 
of flints, in erecting which, in ancient times, I suppose that many per- 
sons involved themselves deeply in debt, and that, in order to extricate 
themselves, they took up money at interest of I know not what great 
men, which so far disturbed their minds that they would become thieves 
and do many things in no wise agreeable to the English government. 
Hence, the nobility ordered that large woods in the Chiltern country 
should in a great measure be cut down, lest they should conceal any 
considerable body of robbers, who were wont to convert the same into 
lurking places. It concerns this matter to call to mind that of this sort 
of robbers was that Robin or Robert Hood, of whom the vulgar dayly 
sing so many wonderful things. He (being now made an outlaw) 
before he retired into the north parts, frequently robbing in the Chiltern 
country, lurked in the thickets thereof on purpose that he should not be 
taken. Thence it was that to us boys (exhilarating, according to cus- 
tom, the mind with sports) certain countrymen, with whom we had 
accidentally some conversation, shewed us that sort of den or retreat 
(vulgarly called Robin Hood's bower) in Maydenhead-thicket ; which 
thicket is the same that Leland in his Itinerary called Frith, by which 
name the Anglo-Saxons themselves spoke of thickets. For although 
rni^ in reality signifies peace, yet since numerous groves with them 
(as well as before with the Britons) were deemed sacred, it is by no 
means to be wondered at that a great wood (because manifestly an 
asylum) should, in the judgment of the Anglo-Saxons, be called by no 
other name than rni^er : and that Maydenhead-thicket was esteemed 
among the greater woods Leland himself is a witness. Rightly therefore 
did Robin Hood (as jrjii^-bena) reckon him-^elf to abide there in 
security" (Chronicon de Dunstaple, p. 387). What he means by all 
this is, doubtless, sufficiently obscure : the mere name, however, of 
Robin Hood's bower seems a very feeble authority for concluding that 
gallant outlaw to have robbed or skulked in the Chiltern hundreds. 

It may seem, perhaps, from a passage in 'Qrov/nfi's Britannia s Pasto- 
rals (Song 4), that Robin Hood's bower was prepared for the reception 
of himself and his Marian, as king and queen of May. The lines are 
these : 

" As I have scene the lady of the May 
Set in an arbour, on a holy-day. 
Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swains, 
Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's strains." 


In some places, at least, these games were nothing more, 
in effect, than a morris-dance, in which Robin Hood, Little 
John, Maid Marian, and Frier Tuck were the principal per- 
sonages ; the others being a clown or fool, the hobby-horse 
(which appears, for some reason or other, to have been fre- 
quently forgot *), the taborer, and the dancers, who were more 
or less numerous. Thus Warner : 

" At Paske began our morrise, and ere penticost our May, 
Tho Roben Hood, Hell John, frier Tuck, and Marian deftly play, 
And lard and ladie gang till kirke with lads and lasses gay."t 

Perhaps the clearest idea of these last-mentioned games, 
about the beginning of the i6th century, will be derived 
from some curious extracts given by Mr. Lysons in his valu- 
able work intitled "The Environs of London" (vol. i. 1792, 
p. 226), from the contemporary accounts of the "church- 
wardens of the parish of Kingston upon Thames." 

" Robin Hood and May-game. 

" 23 Hen. 7. To the menstorell upon May-day 004 

For paynting of the mores garments and for 

sarten gret leveres + 024 

* See Steevens's Shakespeare, 1793, x. 186. 

t Albion's England, 1602, p. 121. It is part of the " Northerne man's 
speech against the friers." He adds : 

" At Baptis-day with ale and cakes bout bonfires neighbours stood, 
At Martle masse wa turnd a crabbe, thilke told of Roben Hood, 
Till after long time myrke, when blest were windowes, dares and lights, 
And pails were fild, and hathes were swept, gainst fairie elves and sprits : 
Rock and plow Mondaies gams . . . with saint-feasts and kirk-lights." 

A very learned and ingenious gentleman conceives that the enumera- 
tion of characters in the passage quoted in the text belongs solely to the 
May, and has no relation whatever to the morrise. That the two games, 
however, though essentially distinct in their origin, got somehow or 
other blended together appears unquestionable. 

" As fit as a morris for May-day " is one of the clown's similes in A IPs 
well that ends well (act ii. scene 2). 

X " The word livery was formerly used to signify anything delivered ; 
see the Northumberland Household Book, p. 60. If it ever bore such 


For paynting of a bannar for Robin Hode 003 

For 2 M. & ^ pynnys o o 10 

For 4 plyts and J of laun for the mores gar- 
ments 0211 

For orseden * for the same . . . . . o o 10 

For a goun for the lady 008 

For bellys for the dawnsars o o 12 

24 Hen. 7. For little John's cote 080 

I Hen. 8, For silver paper for the mores 

dawnsars 007 

For Kendall for Robyn Hode's cote. ..013 

For 3 yerds of white for the frere's f cote .030 

an acceptation at that time, one might be induced to suppose, from the 
following entries, that it here meant a badge, or something of that kind : 

15 C. of ieveres for Robin Hode 050 

For Ieveres, paper and sateyn o o 20 

For pynnes and Ieveres 065 

For 13 C. of leverys 044 

For 24 great lyvereys 004 

We are told that formerly, in the celebration of May-games, the youth 
divided themselves into two troops, the one in winter livery, the other 
in the habit of the spring. See Brand's Popular Antiquities, p. 261." 
This quotation is misapplied. Liveries, in the present instance, are 
pieces of paper or sateyn with some device thereon, which were distri- 
buted for money among the spectators. So in a passage which will be 
shortly quoted from Jack Drum's Entertainment : " Well said, my boyes, 
I must have my lord's livory ; what is't? a Mny-pole? " See also Stubbs's 
Anatomie of Abuses, 1583, sig. M. 2 b, and Skelton's Don Quixote, part 
ii. chap. 22. 

* " Though it varies considerably from that word, this may be a cor- 
ruption of orpiment, which was much in use for colouring the morris 
garments." How orseden can be a corruption of orpiment is not very 
easy to conceive : it may as well be supposed to mean worsted or buck- 
ram. Mr.-Steevens thinks that this orseden is the Arse-dine of old Joan 
Trash, in Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, and voGzx^sflame-colotiredpaintt 
used to hobby-horses. The four giants for the revived Midsummer shew 
at Chester, in i668, were "to be cuUered tinsille arsedine" (MSS. 
Har. 2150, fo. 373, b.) 

t "The friar's coat was generally of rus'^et, as it appears by the fol- 
lowing extracts . . . ." The coat of this mock frier would, doubtless, 
be made of the same stuff as that of a real one. 



For 4 yards of kendall for mayde Marian's * 

hukef . 03 

For saten of sypers for the same huke ..00 
For 2 payre of glovys for Robin Hode and 

mayde Maryan 00 

For 6 brode arovys 00 

To mayde Maryan for her labour for two 

years 02 

To Fygge the taborer 06 

Reed for Robyn Hod's gaderyng 4 marks X 

* "Marian was the assumed name of the beloved mistress of Robert, 
Earl of Huntingdon, whilst he was in a state of outlawry, as Robin 
Hood was his. See Mr. Steevens's note to a passage in Shakespeare's 
Henry IV. This character in the morris-dances was generally repre- 
sented by a boy. See Strutt's View of Customs and Manners, vol. iii. 
p. 150. It appears by one of the extracts, given above, that at Kings- 
ton it was performed by a woman, who was paid a shilling each year 
for her trouble." 

t "Mr. Steevens suggests, with great probability, that this word 
may have the same meaning as hoWve or houve, used by Chaucer for 
a head-dress ; Maid Marian's head-dress was always very fine : indeed 
some persons have derived her name from the Italian word morione, a 
head-dress." Mr. Steevens was never less happy than he is in this very 
probable conjecture. The word howve or houve, in Chaucer, is a mere 
variation of hood : and Maid Marian's head-dress must, to be sure, have 
been "very fine " when made of four yards of broad cloth ! A huke is a 
woman's gown or habit. (Huke, palla, toga, palium Belgicis feminis 
usitatum. — Skin.) Skelton mentions it in his Elinour Rumming : 

" Her huke of Lyncole grene." 

"All women in generall," says Moryson, speaking of the Netherlands, 
" when they goe out of the house, put on dihoyke or v tile, which covers 
their heads, and hangs downe vpon their backs to their legges," &c. 
(Itinerary, 1617, part 3, p. 169). 

Sir John Culliim seems to have mistaken Rose Sparkes' " best hook " 
for a " hook worn at the bottom of the stays, to regulate the sitting of 
the apron " (History of Hawsted, p. 25). Morione, in Italian, signifies 
a murrion or scull-cap ; and though the derivation alluded to appears to 
have the sanction of Blount's Glosographia, nothing can be more com- 
pletely absurd. Marian is Mary. 

"And Marians nose looks rede and raw." 


'It appears that this, as well as other games, was made a parish 


5 Hen. 8. Rec<i for Robin Hood's gaderyng at 

Croydon O 9 4 

1 1 Hen. 8. Paid for three broad yerds of rosett 

for maykng the frer's cote 036 

Shoes for the mores daunsars, the frere and 

mayde Maryan at 7^ a payre ....054 
13 Hen. 8. Eight yerds of fustyan for the mores 

daunsars coats o 16 o 

A dosyn of gold skynnes for the morres * . . . o o lo 

15 Hen. 8. Hire of hats for Robynhode . . . o o 16 
Paid for the hat that was lost . . . . o O 10 

16 Hen. 8. Rec<i at the church-ale and Robyn- 

hode all things deducted 3 lo 6 

Paid for 6 yerds J of satyn for Robyn 

Hode's coyts o 12 6 

For makyng the same 020 

For 3 ells of locram f 016 

21 Hen. 8. For spunging and brushing Robyn- 

hode's cotys 002 

28 Hen. 8. Five hats and 4 porses for the daunsars o o 4I 

4 yerds of cloth for the fole's cote ...020 

2 ells of worstede for mayde Maryans 

kyrtle 068 

For 6 payre of double soUyd showne ..046 

To the mynstrele o 10 8 

To the fryer and the piper for to go to 

Croydon 008 

29 Hen. 8. Mem. Lefte in the keping of the 

wardens nowe beinge. 
A fryers cote of russet and a kyrtele of worstyde weltyd with 
red cloth, a mowrens + cote of buckram, and 4 morres 

• "Probably gilt leather, the pliability of which was particularly 
accommodated to the motion of the dancers." 

t " A sort of coarse linen." 

t " Probably a Moor's coat ; the word Morion is sometimes used to 
express a Moor. — The morris dance is by some supposed to have been 
originally derived from Moorish-dance. Black buckram appears to have 
been much used for the dresses of the ancient mummers. One of the 
figures in Mr. Toilet's window is supposed to be a morisco." 


daunsars cotes of white fustian spangelyd and two gryne 
saten cotes and a dysardd's * cote of cotton and 6 payre of 
garters with bells." 

These games appear to have been discontinued at King- 
ston, as a parochial undertaking at least, after the above 
period, as the industrious inquirer found no further entries 
relating to them. 

Some of the principal characters of the morris seem to 
have gradually disappeared, so that at length it consisted only 
of the dancers, the piper, and the fool. In Mr. Toilet's win- 
dow we find neither Robin Hood nor Little John, though 
Marian and the frier are still distinguished performers.f But 
in the scene of one, introduced in the old play of Jacke 
Drum's Entertainment, first printed in 1601, there is not the 
least symptom of any of the fount "The taber and pipe 
strike up a morrice. A shoute within : A lord, a lord, a lord, 

Ed. Oh, a morrice is come, observe our country sports, 
Tis Whitson tyde, \ and we must frolick it. 

* " Disard is an old word for a fool." 

t In Ben Jonson's Masque of the Metamorphosed Gipsies, presented 
to King James in 1621 (the very date, by the way, which appear-; on 
Mr. Toilet's window, we have the following dialogue between Cochret 
and Clod: 

" Coc. Oh the lord ! what be these ? . . . 

Clo. They should be morris-dancers by their gingle, but they have no 

Coc- No, nor a hobby-horse. 

Clo. Oh, he's often forgotten, that's no rule ; but there is no maid 
Marian 'nor friar amongst them, which is the surer mark. 

Coc. Nor 3./00I that I see." — {Toilet's Memoir.) 

X Neither is any notice taken of them, where the characters of the 
morris-dance are mentioned, in The Two Noble Kinsmen, by Shake- 
speare and Fletcher. 

§ This was a usual cry on occasionsof mirth and jollity. Thus, in the 
celebration of St. Stephen's day in the Inner-Temple hall, as we find it 
described in Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales : " Supper ended, the con- 
stable-marshall 'presenteth' himself with drums afore him, mounted 
upon a scaffold, born by four men ; and goeth three times round al)out 
the harthe, crying out aloud, A lord, a lord, &c. Then he descendeth 
and goeth to dance," &c. (p. 156). 

II " 'Tis meet we all go forth, 

To view the sick and feeble parts of France ; 


Enter the inorrice. 
The song. 
Skip it, and trip it, nimbly, nimbly, 
Tickle it, tickle it lustily. 
Strike up the taber, for the wenches favour, 
Tickle it, tickle it lustily. 
Let us be seen, on Hygate greene, 

To dance for the honour of HoUoway. 
Since we are come hither, let's spare for no leather, 
To dance for the honour of Hoiloway. 
Ed. Well said, my boyes, I must have my lord's livory : what is't? a 
maypole? Troth, 'twere a good body for a courtier's impreza, if it had 
but this life, Frustra florescit. Hold, cousin, hold. 

\He gives the fool money. 
Foole. Thankes, cousin, when the lord my fathers audit comes, wee'I 
repay you againe. Your benevolence too, sir. 
Mam. What I a lord's Sonne become a begger ! 

Foole. Why not ? when beggers are become lord's sons. Come, 'tis 
but a trifle. 
Mam. Oh, sir, many a small make a great. 

Foole. No, sir, a few great make a many small. Come, my lords, 
poore and neede hath no law. 

S. Ed. Nor necessitie no right. Drum, downe with them into the 
celler. Rest content, rest content ; one bout more, and then away. 
Foole. 'Spoke' like a true heart : I kisse thy foote, sweet knight. 
The morrice sing and dance and exeunt." 

It is therefore highly probable, as hath been already sug- 
gested, that the May-gai?ie of Robin Hood and the morris- 
dance had originally no sort of connection ; that the performers 
had united their forces, because their joint efforts proved 
more successful, lucrative, or agreeable ; and that, in fine, 
the latter gradually shook off companions from whose associa- 
tion they no longer derived any advantage.* 

An old writer, describing a country bridal show exhibited 
before Queen Elizabeth at Kenil worth Castle in 15 75, men- 

And let us do it with no show of fear ; 

No, with no more, that if we heard that England 

Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance." 

Shak. K. Hen. K, act ii. scene 4. 
* Perhaps also, Robin Hood and his party had never appeared in 
company with the morris-dancers but at one particular period, in the 
beginning of May, whereas we find that Whitsuntide was no less de- 
voted to the latter. 


tions "a. lively moris dauns, according too the auncient 
manner, six daunsers, mawd Marion, and the fool. " 

Stubbs's chapter, upon "Lords of mis-rule " (Anatomic of 
Abuses, 1583) contains a singular description of a grand 
parochial morris-dance, which is worthy of perusal. 

It is observable that, in the sham second part of Hudibras^ 
published 1663, this place is said to be 

" Highly famed for Hocktide games." 

(Grey's edition of Hudibras, ii. 90.) Of what nature these 
were (at Kingston) we are not informed. See Plot's Natural 
History of Oxfordshire ; Leland's Collectanea, v. Roas. 

Hocktide or Hock-day was the Tuesday fortnight after 
Easter. Two falsehoods are asserted of this festival : one, 
that its celebration was owing to the general joy excited by 
the death of Hardecnute, which in fact took place on the 
8th of June : the other, that it was the anniversary of the 
general slaughter of the Danes in 1042 ; which Henry of 
Huntingdon and others expressly fix on St. Brice's day, being 
the 13th of November. 

It plainly appears, by these extracts, that Robyn Hode, 
Little John, the frere, and tnayde Maryan were fitted out at 
the same time with the mores daunsars, and, consequently, 
it would seem, united with them in one and the same exhi- 

"Also it was said, that the ladie hir selfe, the same dale 
hir husband and she should be crowned, said that she feared 
they should prove but as a summer king and queene, such as 
in countrie townes the yoong folks choose for short to danse 
about maipoles " (Holinshed, at the year 1306). 

As to the original institution of May-poles, or king and 
queen of May, — in a word, of the primitive purpose and 
celebration of a popular festival at that season, — nothing 

* It must be confessed that no other direct authority has been met 
with for constituting Robin Hood and Little John integral characters 
of the morris-dance. That Maid Marian, however, and the Frier, 
were almost constantly such, is proved beyond the possibility of a doubt ; 
and why or how they should become so, without Robin Hood, at least, 
is unaccountable. 


satisfactory or consequential can be discovered. The curious 
reader, at the same time, may consult Spelman's Glossary, 
voce Maiuma, and Ducange, vv. Majuma, Maius. 

In an old manuscript music-book given lately by Mr. 
Dalziel to the Advocates' Library are the following scraps of 
songs about Robin Hood : 

" First when Robin good bow bare. 
Was never bairne so bold, 
Doune, doune, berrie, doune, doune." 

" Now will ye hear a jollie jest, 
How Robin Hood was pope of Rome, 
And Wallace king of France." 

" Jolly Robin goe to the green wood to thy lemman." 

" The nock is out of Johnes bow, Joly, joly," &c. 

Much curious matter on the subject of the morris-dance is 
to be found in " Mr. Toilet's opinion concerning the Morris- 
dancers upon his Window." (See Steevens's Shakespeare, v. 
425, edition 1778, or viii. 596, edition 1793. See also 
Mr. Waldron's notes upon the Sad Shepherd, 1783, p. 255. 
Morris-dancers are said to be yet annually seen in Norfolk,* 
and make their constant appearance in Lancashire.f 

In Scotland, "The game of Robin Hood was celebrated 
in the month of May. The populace assembled previous to 

* This county would seem to have been famous for their exertions a 
couple of centuries ago. Will Kemp the player was a celebrated morris- 
dancer ; and in the Bodleian Library is the following scarce and curious 
tract by him : " Kemp's nine dales wonder performed in a daunce from 
London to Norwich. Containing the pleasure, paines and kind enter- 
tainment of William Kemp between London and that city in his late 
morrice. Wherein is somewhat set downe worth note ; to reproove the 
slaunders spred of him, many things merry, nothing hurtfull. Written 
by himself to satisfie his friends. London, printed by E. A. for Nicholas 
Ling, 1600." 4to, b. 1. On the title-page is a woodcut figure of Kemp 
as a morrice-dancer, preceded by a fellow with a pipe and drum, whom 
he, in the book, calls Thomas Slye his taberer. — See, in Richard Brath- 
wayte's Remains after Death, 1618, some lines " upon Kempe and his 
morice, with his epitaph." 

t ** On Monday [July 30] the morris-dancers of Pendleton paid their 
annual visit in Salford. They were adorned with all the variety of 
colours that a profusion of ribbons could give them, and had a very 
showy garland." — Star, Aug. 9, 1792. 


the celebration of this festival, and chose some respectable * 
member of the corporation to officiate in the character of 
Robin Hood, and another in that of Little John his squire. 
Upon the day appointed, which was a Sunday or holyday, 
the people assembled in military array, and went to some ad- 
joining field, where, either as actors or spectators, the whole 
inhabitants of the respective towns were convened. In this 
field they probably amused themselves with a representation 
of Robin Hood's predatory exploits, or of his encounters with 
the officers of justice [rather, perhaps, in feats of archery or 
military exercises]. 

*' As numerous meetings for disorderly mirth are apt to 
engender tumult, when the minds of the people came to 
be agitated with religious controversy, it was found neces- 
sary to repress the game f of Robin Hood by public statute. 
The populace were by no means willing to relinquish their 
favourite amusement. Year after year the magistrates of 
Edinburgh were obliged to exert their authority J in repress- 
ing this game; often ineffectually. In the year 1561, the 
mob were so enraged at being disappointed in making a 
Robin Hood, that they rose in mutiny, seized on the city 
gates, committed robberies upon strangers ; and one of the 

■* " Council Register, v. i, p. 30." 

t "Mary, parliament 6, c. 61, a.d. 1555." " Anentis Robert Hude, 
and abbot of Unreason. Item, It is statute and ordained, that in all 
times cumming, na maner of person be chosen Robert Hude, nor Little 
John, abbot of unreason, queenis of Maij, nor utherwise, nouther in 
burgh, nor to landwart, in onie time to cum : and gif ony provesr, 
baillies, councell, and communitie, chuse sik ane personage as Robert 
Hude, Little John, abbotis of unreason, or queenis of Maij, within burgh, 
the chusers of sik sail tine their freedome for the space of five zeires ; 
and utherwise salbe punished at the queenis grace will ; and the 
acceptar of sik like office sail be banished foorth of the realme ; and gif 
ony sik persones .... beis chosen out-with burgh, and uthers landward 
townes, the chusers sail pay to our soveraine ladie ten poundes, and 
their persones [be] put in waird there to remaine during the queenis 
grace pleasure." Abbot of unreason is the character better known in 
England by the title of abbot or lord of misrule, "who," says Percy, 
" in the houses of our nobility presided over the Christmas gambols, and 
promoted mirth and jollity at that festive season " (Northumberland 
Household Book, notes, p. 441). 

{ " Council Register, v. 4, p. 4, 30." 


ringleaders being condemned by the magistrates to be hanged, 
the mob forced open the jail, set at liberty the criminal and 
all the prisoners, and broke in pieces the gibbet erected at 
the cross for executing the malefactor. They next assaulted 
the magistrates, who were * sitting in the council-chamber, 
and who fled to the Tolbooth for shelter, where the mob 
attacked them, battering the doors, and pouringstones through 
the windows. Application was made to the deacons of the 
corporations to appease the tumult. Remaining, however, 
unconcerned spectators, they made this answer : ' They will 
be magistrates alone ; let them rule the people alone.' The 
magistrates were kept in confinement till they made procla- 
mation be published, offering indemnity to the rioters upon 
laying down their arms. Still, however, so late as the year 
1592, we find the General Assembly complaining of the pro- 
fanation of the sabbath, by making f of Robin Hood plays " 
(Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 77). 

Notwithstanding the above representation, it is certain that 
these amusements were considerably upon the decline before 
the year 1568. This appears from a poem by Alexander 
Scot, preserved in the Hyndford MS. (in the Advocates' 
Library, compiled and written in that identical year), and 
inaccurately printed in The Evergreen : 

" In May quhen men zeid everichone 
With Robene Hold and Littill Johne, 
To bring in bowis and birkin bobbynis : 
Now all sic game is fastlingis gone, 
But gif it be amangis clovin Robbynis." 

(35) — ^^ His bow, and one of his arro7vs, his chair^ his 
cap, and one of his slippers were preserved till within the 
present century.'''^ "We omitted," says Ray, "the sight of 
Fountain's Abbey, where Robin Hood's bow is kept" (Iti- 
neraries, 1760, p. 161). 

" Having pleased ourselves with the antiquities of * Not- 
ingham,' we took horse and went to visit the well and 

* " Knox's History, p. 270." 

t " Book of Universal Kirk, p. 414." See also Keith's History of 
Scotland, p. 216. 


ancient chair of Robin Hood, which is not far from hence, 
within the forest of Sherwood. Being placed in the chair, 
we had a cap, which they say was his, very formally put 
upon our heads, and having performed the usual ceremonies 
befitting so great a solemnity, we receiv'd the freedom of the 
chair, and were incorporated into the society of that re- 
nowned brotherhood " (Brome's Travels over England, &c., 
1700, p, 85). 

"On one side of. this forest [sci. of Sherwood] towards 
Nottingham," says the author of " The Travels of Tom Thumb 
over England and Wales" {i.e. Robert Dodsley), "I was 
shewn a chair, a bow, and arrow, all said to have been his 
[Robin Hood's] property " (p, 82). 

**I was pleased with a slipper, belonging to the famous 
Robin Hood, shewn me, fifty years ago, at St. Anrt's well, 
near Nottingham, a place upon the borders of Sherwood 
forest, to which he resorted " (Journey from Birmingham to 
London, by W. Hutton, Bir. 1785, p. 174). 

(36) — " Not only places which afforded him security or 
amusement^ but even the well at which he quenched his 
thirst, still retain his name."] Robin Hood's Bay is both a 
bay and a village on the coast of Yorkshire, between Whitby 
and Scarborough. It is mentioned by Leland as " a fischer 
tounlet of 20. bootes cauUid Robyn Huddes bay, a dole or 
bosom of a mile yn length " (Itinerary, i. 53). " When his 
robberies," says Master Charlton, "became so numerous, 
and the outcries against him so loud, as almost to alarm the 
whole nation, parties of soldiers were sent down from London 
to apprehend him : and then it was, that fearing for his 
safety, he found it necessary to desert his usual haunts, and, 
retreating northward, to cross the moors that surrounded 
Whitby [one side whereof happens, a little unfortunately, 
to lie open to the sea], where, gaining the sea-coast, he 
always had in readiness near at hand some small fishing 
vessels, to which he could have refuge, if he found himself 
pursued ; for in these, putting off to sea, he looked upon 
himself as quite secure, and held the whole power of the 
English nation at defiance. The chief place of his resort 


jit these times, M'here his boats were generally laid up, was 
about six miles from Whitby, to which he communicated 
his name, and which is still called Robin Hood's Bay. There 
he frequently went a fishing in the summer season, even 
when no enemy appeared to annoy him, and not far from 
that place he had buts or marks set up, where he used to 
exercise his men in shooting with the long-bow." * 

Near Gloucester is " a famous hill " called '* Robin Hood's 
hill," concerning which there is a very foolish modern song. 
Another hill of the same name exists in the neighbourhood 
of Castleton, Derbyshire. 

" Over a spring call'd Robin Hoods well (3 or 4 miles 
[on] this side [i.e. north] of Doncaster, and but a quarter 
of a mile only from 2 towns call'd Skelbrough and Bour- 
mallis) is a very handsome stone arch, erected by the Lord 
Carlisle, where passengers from the coach frequently drink 
of the fair water, and give their charity to two people who 
attend there" (Gent's History of York. York, 1730, p. 234). t 

* History of Whitby, York, 1779, p. 146. " It was alwaj's believed," 
adds the worthy pedagogue, " that these butts had been erected by him 
for that very purpose, till the year 1771, when this popular notion was 
discovered to be a mistake ; they being no more than the barrows or 
tumuli thrown up by our pagan predecessors on interring their leaders 
or the other persons of distinction amongst them. However, notwith- 
standing this discovery, there is no doubt but Robin Hood made use of 
those houes or butts when he was disposed to exercise his men, and 
wanted to train them up in hitting a mark." Be that as it may, there 
are a few hillocks of a similar nature not far from Guisbrough, which 
likewise bear the name of Robin Hood's butts ; and others, it is ima- 
gined, may be met with in ottier parts, 
t Epigram on Robin Hood's well, " a fine spring on the road, orna- 
mented by Sir John Vanbrugh ; " by Roger Gale, Esq. TBib. 
Topo. Britan. No. II. part iii. p. 427). 

" Nympha fui quondam latronibus hospita sylvae 
Heu nimium sociis nota, Robine, tuis. 
Me pudet innocuos latices fudisse scelestis, 

Jamque viatori pocula tuta fero, 
En pielatis honos ! Comes banc mihi Carliolensis 
JEdcm sacravit quS bibis, hospes, aquas." 

The same author (Gent), in his "long and pathetick prologue," set- 
ting forth "the contingencies, vicissitudes or changes of this transitory 
life," " spoken, for the most part, on Wednesday and Friday the 18th 


Though there is no attendance at present, nor is the water 
altogether so fair as it might and should be, the case was 
otherwise in the days of honest Barnaby. 
" Veni Doncaster, &c. 

Nescit sitis artem modi, 

Puteum Robert! Hoodi 

Veni, & liquente vena 

Vincto * catino catena, 

Tollens sitim, parcum odi, 

Solvens obolum custodi." 

" Thence to Doncaster, &c. 
Thirst knowes neither meane nor measure, 
Robin Hood's well was my treasure ; 
In at common dish enchained, 
I my furious thirst restrained : 
And because I drunk the deeper, 
I paid two farthings to the keeper." 

and 2oth of Febouary 1761, at the deep tragedy of beautiful, eloquent, 
tender-hearted, but unfortunate Jane Shore, .... uttered and performed 
at his benefit" . . . (being then aetatis 70, and far declined into the vale 
of sorrow,!) has very artfully contrived to introduce our hero and his 
famous well. 

" The concave hall, 'mongst sources never view'd, 
Nor heard the goddesses, in merry mood, 
At their choice viands sing bold Robin Hood : 2 
Whose tomb at Kirkley's nunnery display 'd, 
A false, hard-hearted, irreligious maid. 
Who bled, and to cold death that earl betray'd. 
But fame still lasts, while country folks display 
His limpid fountain, and loud-surging bay." 
* " Viventes venae, spine, catinusque catenae. 

Sunt Robin Hoodi nota trophaea sui." 
t " A well, thorne, dish, hung in an iron chaine. 

For monuments of Robin Hood remaine." » 

1 He died in 1778, aged 87. 
%;" Omnes agnovere deam ; laetique receptant 
Alcaeum musac comitem, ponuntur lacchi 
Crateres ; flaventque scyphis Cerealia vina : 
Accedunt vultus hilares ; festique lepores, 
Et jocus, et risus : dulci testudine Naias 
Pulchra modos variat ; furtisque insignis et arcu 
Hodi latronis, fluvios bene nota per istos, 
Ludicra gesta canit : resonant laquearia plausu." 


He mentions it again : 

" Nunc longinquos locus odi, 
Vale fons Roberti Hoodi." 

'* Now I hate all foreign places, 
Robin Hood's well, and his chaces. 

A different well, sacred either to Robin Hood or to St. 
Ann, has been already mentioned. 

" Not far [off Bitham, in Lincolnshire] is Robyn Huddes 
cros, a /imes of the shires" (Leland's Itinerary, i. 25). 

(37) — '■^conferred as a singular distinction upon the prime 
minister to the king of Madagascar,''^'\ The natives of this 
island, who have dealings with our people, pride themselves, 
it seems, in English names, which are bestowed upon them at 
the discretion or caprice of the sailors : and thus a venerable 
minister of state, who should have been called Sir Robert 
Walpole or Cardinal Fleury, acquired the name of Robin 
Hood. Mr. Ives, by whom he is frequently mentioned, re- 
lates the following anecdote : — 

" The reader will excuse my giving him another instance 
.... which still more strikingly displays the extreme sen- 
sibility of these islanders, in respect to their king's dignity. 
Robin Hood (who seemed to act as prime minister, and nego- 
tiate most of the king's concerns with our agent-victualler) 
was one day transacting business with another gentleman of 
the squadron, and they happened to differ so much about the 
value of a certain commodity, that high words arose, and at 
length Robin Hood in the greatest agitation started from the 
ground where he was sitting, and swore that he would imme- 
diately acquaint the king of Baba with what had passed. 
Our English gentleman, too much heated with this threat, and 
the violent altercation which had preceded it, unguardedly 
replied, * D — n the king of Baba.' The eyes of Robin 
Hood flashed like lightning, and in the most violent wrath he 
retorted, * D— n King George.' At the same instant he left 
the spot, hurrying away towards the Madagascarian cottages. 
Our countryman was soon struck with the impropriety of his 
behaviour, followed and overtook the disputant, and having 


made all proper concessions, the affair was happily termi- 
nated." * 

(38) ^^ After his death his company was dispersed.'"'] They 
and their successors, disciples, or followers are supposed to 
have been afterward distinguished, from the name of their 
gallant leader, by the title of Roberdsmen. Lord Coke, who 
is somewhat singular in accusing him of living ** by robbery, 
burning of houses, felony, waste and spoil, and principally by 
and with vagabonds, idle wanderers, night-walkers, and draw- 
latches," says that ** albeit he lived in Yorkshire, yet men of 
his quality took their denomination of him, and were called 
Roberdsmen throughout all England. Against these men," 
continues he, *' was the statute of Winchester made in 13 E. 
I. [c. 14], for preventing of robbery, murders, burning of 
houses, &c. Also the statute of 5 E. 3. [c. 14], which 're- 
cites' the statute of Winchester, and that there had been 
divers manslaughters, felonies, and robberies done in times 
past, by people that be called Roberdsmen, wasters and draw- 
latches ; and remedy [is] provided by that act for the arrest- 
ing of them. At the parliament holden 50 E. 3.," he adds, 
** it was petitioned to the king that ribands and sturdy beg- 
gars might be banished out of every town. The answer of 
the king in parliament was, touching ribands : The statute of 
Winchester and the declaration of the same with other statutes 
of Roberdsmen, and for such as make themselves gentlemen, 
and men of armes, and archers, if they cannot so prove their- 
selves, let them be driven to their occupation or service, or to 
the place from whence they came." He likewise notices the 
statute of 7 R. 2. [c. 5], by which it is provided "that the 
statutes of Roberdsmen and draw-latches be firmly holden 
and kept" (3 Inst. 197). 

These Roberdsmen are mentioned in Pierce the Plough- 
man's Crede, written about 1400 : 

" And right as Robartesmen raken aboute." t 

* Voyage from England to India, 1773, p. 8. In a subsequent page 
this great man is employed in a commerce of a more delicate, indeed, but, 
according to European notions, less honourable nature, which he manages 
with consummate address. 

t They likewise seem alluded to in the Vision, fo. i, b : 
" And ryse wyth ribaudy as Rebertes knaves." 


Mr. Warton, who had once thought that the friers Robertines 
were here meant, observes that "the expression of Robin 
Hoode's men, in Bishop Latimer's sermon, is not without an 
allusion to the bad sense of Roberdsmen " (H. E. P. ii. 
additions, sig. d. 4). It does not, however, appear that the 
latter word has been ever used in a good one ; nor is there, 
after all, sufficient ground for concluding that these people 
were so named after Robin Hood. 

(39) — ^^ the honour of Little John^s death and burial is 
contended for by rival nations J^l I. By England.— At the 
village of Hathersage, kbout six miles from Castleton, in 
Derbyshire, is Little John's grave. A few years ago some 
curious person caused it to be opened, when there were found 
several bones of an uncommon size, which he preserved ; but, 
meeting afterwards with many unlucky accidents, he carefully 
replaced them ; partly at the intercession of the sexton, who 
had taken them up for him, and who had in like manner been 
visited with misfortunes : upon restoring the bones all these 
troubles ceased. Such is the tradition at Castleton. E. Har- 
grove, in his " Anecdotes of Archery," York, 1792, asserts 
that "the grave is distinguished by a large stone placed at 
the head, and another at the feet, on each of which are yet 
some remains of the letters I. L." (p. 26).* IL By Scotland. — 
" In Murray land," according to that most veracious historian 
Maister Hector Bois, " is the kirke of Pette, quhare the banis 
of ly till Jobne remanis in gret admiratioun of pepill. He hes 
bene fourtene fut of hycht + with square membris effering 
thairto. Vi. zeris," continues he, "afore the cumyng of this 

* " On a loose paper, in Mr. Ashmole's handwriting, in the museum 
at Oxford, is the following little anecdote : — 

''The famous Little John (Robin Hood's companion) lyes buried in 
Fethersedge churchyard, in the peak of Derbyshire, one stone at his 
head, another at his feet, and part of his bow hangs up in the chancel!. 
Anno 1652." H. E[llis]. European Magazine, October 1794, p. 295. 

t This seems the established size of an ancient hero. The grave of 
Gawin, King Arthur's nephew, discovered in the time of William the 
Conqueror, was, according to Malmesbury, ^' quatuor dec hn pedes 
longum" (De gestis regum, I. 3). Bois, from the above circumstance, 
conceives our " Litil Jhon " to have been so called " Per ironiam." See 
his original work, fo. ix. 


werk to lycht we saw his hanche-bane, als mekill as the haill 
bane of ane man : for we schot our arme in the mouth thairof. 
Be quhilk apperis how Strang and square pepill grew in our 
regioun afore thay were effeminat with lust and intemperance 
of mouth." * III. By Ireland. — " There standeth," as Stani- 
hurst relates, *' in Ostmantowne greene an hillocke, named 
little John his shot.. The occasion," he says, " proceeded of 

"In the yeare one thousand one hundred foure score and 
nine, there ranged three robbers and outlaws in England, 
among which Robert Hood and Little John weere cheefeteins, 
of all theeves doubtlesse the most courteous. Robert Hood 
being betrayed at a nunrie in Scotland called Bricklies, the 
remnant of the crue was scattered, and everie man forced to 
shift for himselfe. Whereupon Little John was faine to flee 
the realme by sailing into Ireland, where he sojornied for a 
few daies at Dublin. The citizens being doone to understand 
the wandering outcast to be an excellent archer, requested' 
him hartilie to trie how far he could shoot at random ; who 
yeelding to their behest, stood on the bridge of Dublin, and 
shot to that mole hill, leaving behind him a monument, 
rather by his posteritie to be woondered, than possiblie by 
anie man living to be counterscored. But as the repaire of 
so notorious a champion to anie countrie would soone be 
published, so his abode could not be long concealed : and 
therefore to eschew the danger of [the] lawes, he fled into 
Scotland, where he died at a towne or village called Mo- 
ravie." t Thus Stanihurst, who is quoted by Dr. Hanmer in 
his Chronicle of Ireland, p. 179, but Mr. Walker, after ob- 
serving that '* poor Little John's great practical skill in archery 
could not save him from an ignominious fate," says, "it 
appeared, from some records in the Southwell family, that 

* Historic of Scotland, translatit be Maister Johne Bellenden, Edin. 
1541, fo. The luxury of his countrymen will appear a strange complaint 
in the mouth of a Sco ishman of the i6th century, to such as believe, 
with the late Dr. Johnson, that they learned to plant kail from Crom- 
well's soldiers, and that "when they had not kail they probably had 
nothing" (Journey to the Western Islands, p. 55). 

t Description of Ireland, in Holinshed's Chronicle, 1587. 


he was publicly executed for robbery on Arbor Hill, 
Dublin." * 

(40) — ^^ some of his descendants of the name of Nailor^^ 
<5r'c.] See the preface to the History of George a Green. 
As surnames were by no means in general use at the close of 
the twelfth century, Little John may have obtained that of 
Nailor from his original profession. 

("Ye boasted worthies of the knuckle, 
To Maggs and to the Nailor truckle.") 

But however this, or the fact itself may be, a bow, said to 
have belonged to Little John, with the name of Naylor upon 
it, is now, as the editor is informed, in the possession of a 
gentleman in the West Riding of Yorkshire. 

The quotation about whetstones is from the Sloane MS. 
Those, indeed, who recollect the equivocal meaning of the 
word may think that this production has not been altogether 
confined to the grave of Little John. 

* Historical Essay, &c., p. 129. This allegation demands what the 
lawyers call a profert in curiam. It is, however, certain that there have 
been persons who usurped the name of Little John. In the year 1502, 
" about mydsomer, was taken a felow whyche had renued many of 
Robyn Hodes pagentes, which named himselfe Grenelef" (Fabyan's 
Chronicle, 1559). Therefore, beware of counterfeits ! 


^art 3E. 


Part h 



This ancient legend is printed from the copy of an edition, in 4to 
and black letter, by Wynken de Worde, preserved in the public 
library at Cambridge ; compared with, and, in some places, 
corrected by, another impression (apparently from the former), 
likewise in 4to and black letter, by William Copland, a copy 
of which is among the late Mr. Garrick's old plays, now in the 
British Museum. The full title of the first edition is as follows : 
" Here beginneth a mery geste of Robyn Hode and his meyne, 



and of the proude sheryfe of Notyngham ;" and the printer's 
colophon runs thus : "Explycit. Kynge Edwarde and Robyn 
hode and Lytell Johan Enprented at London in Flete strete at 
the sygne of the sone By Wynken de Worde." To Copland's 
edition is added "a newe playe for to be played in Maye games 
very plesaunte and full of pastyme ; " which will be found at 
large in another place. No other copy of either edition is known 
to be extant; but, by the favour of the Reverend Dr. Farmer, 
the editor had in his hands and gave to Mr. Douce a few leaves 
of an old 4to black letter impression by the above Wynken de 
Worde, probably in 1489, and totally unknown to Ames and 
Herbert. Another edition was printed at Edinburgh by Androw 
Myllar and Walter Chepman in 1508, a fragment whereof is in 
the Advocates' Library there. This is probably the edition noticed 
among the tales enumerated in Wedderburn's Complainte of 
Scotland, printed at St. Andrews in 1549, under the title of 
" Robene Hude and litiljhone." Among the Doctor's numerous 
literary curiosities was likewise another edition, " printed," after 
Copland's, ' ' for Edward White " (4to, black letter, no date, 
but entered in the Stationers' books 13 May 1594), which hath 
been collated, and every variation worthy of notice either adopted 
or remarked in the margin. The only deviation from all the copies 
(except in necessary corrections) is the division of stanzas, the 
indenting of the Unes, the addition of points, the disuse of abbre- 
viations, and the occasional introduction or rejection of a capital 
letter ; liberties, if they may be so called, which have been taken 
with most of the other poems in this collection. 

Lithe and lysten, gentylmen, 
That be of frebore blode ; 

I shall you tell of a good yemkn, 
His name was Robyn Hode. 


Robyn was a proude outlawe, 
Whyles he walked on grounde, 

So curteyse an outlawe as he was one 
Was never none yfounde. 

Robyn stode in Bernysdale, 

And lened hym to a tree, 
And by hym stode Lytell Johan, 

A good yeman was he ; 

And also dyde good Scathelock, 

And Much the millers sone ; 
There was no ynche of his body, 

But it was worthe a grome. 

Than bespake hym Lytell Johan 

All unto Robyn Hode, 
Mayster, yf ye wolde dyne betyme, 

It wolde do you moch good. 

Then bespake good Robyn, 

To dyne I have no lust, 
Tyll I have some bolde baron. 

Or some unketh gest, 

[Or els some byshop or abbotj ^ 

That may paye for the best ; 
Or some knyght or some squyere 

That dwelleth here by west. 

1 The irregularity or defect of the versification, in this and 
similar passages, is probably owing to the loss of a line. 


A good maner than had Robyn, 

In londe where that he were, 
Every daye or he woulde dyne 

Thre messes wolde he here ; 

The one in the worshyp of the fader, 

The other of the holy goost, 
The thyrde was of our dere lady. 

That he loved of all other moste. 

Robyn loved our dere lady, 

For doute of dedely synne ; 
Wolde he never do company harme 

That only woman was ynne. 

Mayster, than sayd Lytell Johan, 
And we our horde shall sprede. 

Tell us whether we shall gone. 
And what lyfe we shall lede ; 

Where we shall take, where we shall leve. 
Where we shall abide behynde, 

Where we shall robbe, where we shall reve. 
Where we shall bete and bynde. 

Ther of no fors, sayd Robyn, 

We shall do well ynough ; 
But loke ye do no housbonde harme 

That tylleth with his plough ; 


No more ye shall no good yemkn, 
That walketh by grene wode shawe, 

Ne no knyght, ne no squy^r, 
That wolde be a good felawe. 

These bysshoppes, and thyse archebysshoppes, 

Ye shall them bete and bynde ; 
The hye sheryfe of Notynghame, 

Hym holde in your mynde. 

This worde shall be holde, sayd Lytyll Johan, 

And this lesson shall we lere ; 
It is ferre dayes, god sende us a gest, 

That we were at our dynere. 

Take thy good bowe in thy hande, said Robyn, 

Let Moche wende with the, 
And so shall Wyllyam Scathelocke, 

And no man abyde with me ; 

And walke up to the Sayles, 

And so to Watlynge-strete,^ 
And wayte after some unketh gest, 

Up-chaunce ye mowe them mete. 

1 This seems to have been, and, in many parts, is still, the 
name generally used by the vulgar for Erming Street. The course 
of the real Watling Street was from Dover to Chester. 

The Sayles appears to be some place in the neighbourhood of 
Barnsdale, but no mention of it has elsewhere occurred : though, 
it is believed, there is a field so called not far from Doncaster. 


Be he erle or ony baron, 

Abbot or ony knyght, 
Brynge hym to lodge to me, 

Hys dyner shall be dyght. 

They wente unto the Sayles, 

These yemen all thre. 
They loked est, they loked west. 

They myght no man see. 

But as they loked in Barnysdale, 

By a deme strete, 
Then came there a knyght rydynge, 

Full sone they gan hym mete. 

All dreri then was his i semblaunte, 

And lytell was hys pryde, 
Hys one fote in the sterope stode, 

That other waved besyde. 

Hys hode hangynge over hys eyen two, 

He rode in symple aray ; 
A soryer man than he was one 

Rode never in somers-day. 

Lytell Johan was curteyse, 

And set hym on his kne : 
Welcome be ye, gentyll knyght, 

Welcome are you to me. 

1 All his. PCC. 



Welcome be thou to grene wood, 

Hende knyght and fre ; 
My mayster hath abyden you fastynge, 

Syr, all these oures thre. 

Who is your mayster ? sayd the knyght. 

Johan sayde, Robyn Hode. 
He is a good yeman, sayd the knyght, 

Of hym I have herde moch good. 

I graunte, he sayd, with you to wende, 

My brethren all in-fere ; ^ 
My purpose was to have deyned to day 

At Blythe or Dankastere. 

Forthe than went this 2 gentyll knyght, 

With a carefull chere, 
The teres out of his eyen ran, 

And fell downe by his lere.^ 

They brought hym unto the lodge dore, 

When Robyn gan hym se. 
Full curteysly dyde of his hode, 

And set hym on his kne. 

Welcome, syr knyght, then said Robyn, 

Welcome thou arte to me, 
I haue abyde you fastynge, syr, 

All these houres thre. 

1 So R. [RastalL] all thre. W. C. [de Worde and Copland.] 

2 This. R. that. W. C. 3 Ere. R. 


Then answered the gentyll knyght, 

With wordes fayre and fre, 
God the save, good Robyn, 

And all thy fayre meyn^. 

They washed togyder and wyped bothe, 

And set tyll theyr dynere j 
Brede and wyne they had ynough, 

And nombles of the dere ; 

Swannes and fesauntes they had full good, 

And foules of the revere ; 
There fayled never so lytell a byrde, 

That ever was bred on brere. 

Do gladly, syr knyght, sayd Robyn. 

Gramercy, syr, sayd he, 
Suche a dyner had I not 

Of all these wekes thre ; 

If I come agayne, Robyn, 

Here by this countr^. 
As good a dyner I shall the make. 

As thou hast made to me. 

Gramercy, knyght, sayd Robyn, 

My dyner whan I have, 
I was never so gredy, by dere worthy god 

My dyner for to crave. 


But pay or ye wende, sayd Robyn, 

Me thynketh it is good ryght ; 
It was never the maner, by dere worthy god, 

A yeman to pay ^ for a knyght. 

I have nought in my cofers, sayd the knyght 

That I may profer for shame. 
Lytell Johan, go loke, sayd Robyn,^ 

Ne let not for no blame. 

Tell me trouth, sayd Robyn, 

So god hath parte of the. 
I have no more but ten shillings, sayd the knyght. 

So god hath parte of me. 

Yf thou have no more, sayd Robyn, 

I wyll not one peny ; 
And yf thou have nede of ony more, 

More shall I len the. 

Go now forth, Lytell Johan, 

The trouthe tell thou me, 
Yf there be no more but ten shillings, 

Not one peny that I se. 

Lytell Johan spred downe his mant^ll 

Full fayre upon the grounde, 
And there he founde in the knyghtes cofer 

But even halfe a pounde. 

1 To pay. R. pay. W. C. 
2 Robyn. R. Robyn Hoode. W. C. 


Lytyll Johan let it lye full styll, 
And went to his mayster full lowe. 

What tydynge Johan ? sayd Robyn. 
" Syr, the knyght is trewe inough." 

Fyll of the best wyne, sayd Robyn, 

The knyght shall begynne ; 
Moch wonder thynketh me 

Thy clothynge is so thynne. 

Tell me one worde, sayd Robyn, 

And counsell shall it be ; 
I trowe thou were made a knyght of forse, 

Or elles of yemanry ; 

Or elles thou hast ben a sory housband, 
And leved in stroke and stryfe ; 

An okerer, or elles a lechoure, sayd Robyn, 
With wrong e hast thou lede thy lyfe. 

I am none of them, sayd the knyght. 

By god that made me ; 
An hondreth wynter here before, 

Myne aunsetters knyghtes have be. 

But ofte it hath befal, Robyn, 

A man hath be dysgrate ; 
But god that syteth in heven above 

May amend his state. 


Within two or thre yere,^ Robyn, he sayd, 

My neyghbores well it ' kende,' 2 
Foure hondreth pounde of good money 

Full wel than myght I spende. 

Now have I no good, sayd the knyght, 

But my chyldren and my wyfe ; 
God hath shapen such an ende, 

Tyll god * may amende ^ my lyfe.' 

In what maner, sayd Robyn, 

Hast thou lore thy rych^s ? 
For my grete foly, he sayd, 

And for my kindenesse. 

I had a sone, for soth, Robyn, 

That sholde have ben my eyre, 
When he was twenty wynter olde, 

In felde wolde juste full feyre ; 

He slewe a knyght of Lancastshyre,'* 

And a squyre bolde ; 
For to save hym in his ryght 

My goodes beth sette and solde ; 

My londes beth set to wedde, Robyn, 

Untyll a certayne daye, 
To a ryche abbot here besyde. 

Of Saynt Mary abbay. 

1 Two yere. R. 2 Knowe. OCC. 

' It may amende. OCC. ■* Lancasesshyre. R 


What is the somme ? sayd Robyn, 

Trouthe than tell thou me. 
Syr, he sayd, foure hondred pounde, 

The abbot tolde it to me. 

Now, and thou lese thy londe, sayd Robyn, 

What shall fall of the ? 
Hastely I \vyll me buske, sayd the knyght, 

Over the salte see. 

And se where Cryst was quycke and deed, 

On the mounte of Caluar^. 
Fare well, frende, and have good daye, 

It may noo ^ better be 

Teeres fell out of his eyen two, 
He wolde haue gone his waye — 

Farewell, frendes, and have good day, 
I ne have more to pay. 

Where be ^ thy friendes ? sayd Robyn. 

" Syr, never one wyll me know ; ^ 
Whyle I was ryche inow at home 

Crete host then wolde they blowe, 

And now they renne awaye fro me. 

As bestes on a rowe ; 
They take no more heed of me 

Then they me never sawe."* 

1 Not. W. C. 2 By. W. C. 

3 So R. knowe me. W. C. 

4 The fragment of Rastall's edition ends here. 


For ruthe then wepte Lytell Johan, 
Scathelocke and Much ' in fere.' i 

Fyll of the best wyne,^ sayd Robyn, 
For here is a symple chere. 

Hast thou ony frendes, sayd Robyn, 

Thy borowes that wyll be ? 
I have none, then sayd the knyght, 

But god that dyed on a tree. 

Do waye thy japes, sayd Robyn, 

Therof wyll I right none ; 
Wenest thou I wyll have god to borowe ? 

Peter, Poule or Johan? 

Nay, by hym that me made, 

And shope both sonne and mone, 

Fynde a better borowe, sayd Robyn, 
Or mony getest thou none. 

I have none other, sayd the knyght, 

The sothe for to say. 
But yf it be our dere lady. 

She fayled me never or this day. 

By dere worthy god, sayd Robyn, 
To seche all Englond thorowe. 

Yet founde I never to my pay, 
A moch better borowe. 

1 Also. FCC. 2 Wyme. PCC. 



Come now forthe, Lytell Johan, 

And goo to my tresour^, 
And brynge me foure hondred pounde, 

And loke that it well tolde be. 

Forthe then wente Lytell Johan, 

And Scathelocke went before, 
He tolde out foure houndred pounde. 

By eyghtene score.^ 

Is this well tolde ? sayd lytell Much. 

Johan sayd, What greveth the ? 
It is almes to helpe a gentyll knyght 

That is fall in poverty. 

Mayster, than sayd Lytell Johan, 

His clothynge is full thynne. 
Ye must gyve the knyght a lyveray, 

To ' lappe' 2 his body ther in. 

For ye have scarlet and grene, mayster, 

And many a ryche aray, 
There is no marchaunt in mery Englonde 

So ryche, I dare well saye. 

Take hym thre yerdes of every coloure, 

And loke that well mete it be. 
Lytell Johan toke none other mesure 

But his bowe tre, 

1 i.e. by so many score to the hundred, or three hundred 
for one. It is certainly a very hyperbolical expression : but he 
measures the cloth in the same way. 

2 Helpe. W. wrappe. C. 



And of every handfull that he met 

He lept ouer fotes thre. 
What devilkyns draper, sayd litell Much, . 

Thynkyst thou to be ? 

Scathelocke stoode full styll and lough, 

And sayd, By god allmyght, 
Johan may gyve hym the better mesure. 

By god, it cost him but lyght. 

Mayster, sayd Lytell Johan, 

All unto Robyn Hode, 
Ye must gyve that knight an hors. 

To lede home al this good. 

Take hym a gray courser, sayd Robyn, 

And a sadell newe ; 
He is our ladyes messengere, 

God lene ^ that he be true. 

And a good palfraye, sayd lytell Moch, 

To mayntayne hym in his ryght. 
And a payre of botes, sayd Scathelocke, 

For he is a gentyll knyght. 

What shalt thou gyve hym, Lytel Johan ? sayd 
Syr, a payre of gylte spores clene, [Robyn. 

To pray for all this company : 
God brynge hym out of tene ! 

1 Leue. W. lende. C, 


Whan shall my daye be, sayd the knyght, 

Syr, and your wyll be ? 
This daye twelve moneth, sayd Robyn, 

Under this grene wode tre. 

It were grete shame, sayd Robyn, 

A knyght alone to ryde, 
Without squyer, yeman or page, 

To walke by hys syde. 

I shall the lene Lytyll Johan my man, 

For he shall be thy knave ; 
In a yemans steed he may the stonde, 

Yf thou grete nede have. 


NOWE is the knyght went on this way. 
This game he thought full good. 

When he loked on Bernysdale, 
He blyssed Robyn Hode; 

And whan he thought on Bernysdale, 
On Scathelock, Much, and Johan, 

He blyssed them for the best company 
That ever he in come. 


Then spake that gentyll knyght, 

To Lytel Johan gan he saye, 
To morovve I must to Yorke toune, 

To Saynt Mary abbay ; 

And to the abbot of that place 

Foure hondred pounde I must pay : 

And but I be there upon this nyght 
My londe is lost for ay. 

The abbot sayd to his covent, 

There he stode on grounde, 
This day twelfe moneth came there a knyght 

And borowed foure hondred pounde. 

[He borowed foure hondred pounde,] 

Upon all his londe fre, 
But he come this ylke day 

Dysherytye shall he be. 

It is full erely, sayd the pryoure/ 

The day is not yet ferre gone, 
I had lever to pay an hondred pounde, 

And lay it downe a none. 

The knyght is ferre be yonde the see. 

In Englonde is his ryght, 
And suffreth honger and colde 

And many a sory nyght ; 

^ The prior, in an abbey, was the officer immediately under the 
abbot ; in priories and conventual cathedrals he was the superior. 


It were grete pyt^, sayd the pryoure, 

So to have his londe, 
And ye be so lyght of your conseyence 

Ye do to him moch wronge. 

Thou arte euer in my berde, sayd the abbot, 

By god and saynt Rycharde.^ 
With that cam in a fat-heded monke, 

The heygh selerer ; 

He is dede or hanged, sayd the monke, 

By god that bought me dere, 
And we shall have to spende in this place 

Foure hondred pounde by yere. 

The abbot and the hy selerer, 

Sterte forthe full bolde, 
The high justyce of Englonde 

The abbot there dyde holde. 

1 This was a "S. Richard, king and confessour, sonne to 
Lotharius king of Kent, who, for the love of Christ, taking upon 
him a long peregrination, went to Rome for devotion to that sea, 
afid in his way homward, died at Luca, about the year of Christ, 
seaven hundred and fifty, where his body is kept untill this day 
with great veneration, in the oratory and chappell of S. Frigidian, 
and adorned with an epitaph both in verse and prose " (English 
Martyrologe, 1608). 

There were other saints of the same name, as Richard de la 
Wich, bishop of Chichester, canonised in 1262 ; and Richard, 
bishop of St. Andrews in Calabria. See Drayton's Polyolbion, 
song 24. 


The hye justyce and many mo 

Had take into their honde 
Holy all the knyghtes det, 

To put that knyght to wronge. 

They demed the knyght wonder sore, 

The abbot and hys meyn^ : 
" But he come this ylke day 

Dysheryte shall he be." 

He wyll not come yet, sayd the justyce, 

I dare well undertake. 
But in sorowe tyme.for them all 

The knyght came to the gate. 

Than bespake that gentyll knyght 

Untyll hys meyn^, 
Now put on your symple wedes 

That ye brought fro the see. 

[They put on their symple wedes,] 

And came to the gates anone, 
The porter was redy hymselfe, 

And welcomed them everychone. 

Welcome, syr knyght, sayd the porter, 

My lorde to mete is he, 
And so is many a gentyll man. 

For the love of the. 


The porter swore a full grete othe, 

By god that made me, 
Here be the best coresed hors 

That ever yet sawe I me. 

Lede them into the stable, he sayd, 

That eased myght they be. 
They shall not come therin, sayd the knyght. 

By god that dyed on a tre. 

Lordes were to mete isette 

In that abbotes hall, 
The knyght went forth and kneled downe, 

And salved them grete and small. 

Do gladly, syr abbot, sayd the knyght, 

I am come to holde my day. 
The fyrst word the abbot spake, 

Hast thou brought my pay ? 

Not one peny, sayd the knyght, 

By god that maked me. 
Thou art a shrewed dettour, sayd the abbot : 

Syr justyce, drynke to me. 

What doost thou here, sayd the abbot, 
But thou haddest brought thy pay ? 
. For god, than sayd the knyght. 
To pray of a lenger daye. 


Thy daye is broke, sayd the justyce, 

Londe getest thou none. 
" Now, good syr justyce, be my frende, 

And fende me of my fone." 

I am holde with the abbot, sayd the justyce, 

Bothe with cloth and fee. 
" Now, good syr sheryf, be my frende." 

Nay for god, sayd he. 

" Now, good syr abbot, be my frende. 

For thy curteys^. 
And holde my londes in thy honde 

Tyll I have made the gree ; 

And I wyll be thy true servaunte, 

And trewely serve the, 
Tyl ye have foure hondred pounde 

Of money good and free." 

The abbot sware a full grete othe. 

By god that dyed on a tree. 
Get the londe where thou may, 

For thou getest none of me. 

By dere worthy god, then sayd the knyght. 

That all this worlde wrought, 
But I have my londe agayne 

Full dere it shall be bought ; 


God, that was of a mayden borne, 

Lene us ^ well to spede ! 
For it is good to assay a frende 

Or that a man have nede. 

The abbot lothely on hym gan loke 
And vylaynesly hym gan ' call ; ' ^ 

Out, he sayd, thou false knyght, 
Spede the out of my hall ! 

Thou lyest, then sayd the gentyll knyght, 

Abbot in thy hal ; 
False knyght was I never, 

By god that made us all. 

Up then stode that gentyll knyght. 

To the abbot sayd he, 
To suffre a knyght to knele so longe. 

Thou canst no curteysye ; 

In joustes and in tournement 

Full ferre than have I be. 
And put myselfe as ferre in prees 

As ony that ever I se. 

What wyll ye gyve more ? sayd the justyce, 
And the knyght shall make a releyse ; 

And elles dare I safly swere 

Ye holde never your londe in pees. 

1 Leue. W. Sende us. C. 2 Loke. W. C. 


An hondred pounde, sayd the abbot. 

The justyce said, Gyve him two. 
Nay, be god, sayd the knyght. 

Yet gete 1 ye it not soo : 

Though ye wolde gyve a thousande more, 

Yet were ' ye ' 2 never the nere : 
Shall there never be myn eyre. 

Abbot, justyse, ne frere. 

He sterte hym to a borde anone, 

Tyll a table rounde. 
And there he shoke out of a bagge 

Even foure hondred pounde. 

Have here thy golde, syr abbot, sayd the knyght. 

Which that thou lentest me ; 
Haddest thou ben curteys at my comynge, 

Rewarde sholdest thou have be. 

The abbot sat styll, and ete no more, 

For all his ryall chere, 
He caste his hede on his shold^r, 

And fast began to stare. 

Take me my golde agayne, sayd the abbot, 

Syr justyce, that I toke the. 
Not a peny, sayd the justyce, 

By god, thai dyed on a tree. 

1 Crete. W. get. C. 2 xhou. PCC. 


" Syr abbot, and ye men of lawe, 

Now have I holde my daye, 
Now shall I have my londe agayne, 

For ought that you can saye." 

The knyght stert out of the dore, 

Awaye was all his care, 
And on he put his good clothynge, 

The other he lefte there. 

He wente hym forthe full mery syngynge, 

As men have tolde in tale, 
His lady met hym at the gate, 

At home in ' Wierysdale.' ^ 

Welcome, my lorde, sayd his lady ; 

Syr, lost is all your good ? 
Be mery, dame, sayd the knyght, 

And praye for Robyn Hode, 

That ever his soule be in blysse. 

He holpe me out of my tene ; 
Ne had not be his kyndenesse, 

Beggers had we ben. 

The abbot and I acordyd ben. 

He is served of his pay. 
The good yeman lent it me, 

As I came by the way. 

1 Uterysdale. O. CC. Wierysdale is the name of a forest in 
Lancashire : though it appears, in a subsequent part of this poem, 
that the knight's castle was in Nottinghamshire. 


This knyght than dwelled fayre at home. 

The soth for to say, 
Tyll he had got foure hondreth pounde 

All redy for too paye. 

He purveyed hym an hondred bowes, 

The strenges [were] welle dyght, 
An hondred shefe of arowes good, 

The hedes burnyshed full bryght, 

And every arowe an elle longe, 

With pecocke well ydyght, 
I nocked all with whyte sylv^r, 

It was a semly syght. 

He purveyed hym an hondreth men, 

Well harneysed in that stede, 
And hymselfe in that same sete,^ 

And clothed in whyte and rede. 

He bare a launsgay in his honde, 

And a man ledde his male, 
And reden with a lyght songe, 

Unto Bernysdale. 

As he went at a brydge ther was a wrastelyng. 

And there taryed was he. 
And there was all the best yem^n, 

Of all the west countree. 

1 Sute. C. 


A full fayre game there was upset, 

A whyte bull up ipyght ; ^ 
A grete courser with sadle and brydil, 

With golde burneyshed full bryght ; 

A payre of gloves, a rede golde rynge, 
A pype of wyne, in good fay : 

What man bereth him best, I wys. 
The pryce shall here away. 

There was a yeman in that place, 

And bQSt worthy was he, 
And for he was ferre and frend bestad, 

Islayne he sholde have be. 

The knyght had reuth of this yemkn. 
In place where that he stode, 

He said that yoman sholde have no harme, 
For love of Robyn Hode. 

The knyght presed into the place. 
An hondred folowed hym ' fre,' ^ 

With bowes bent, and arowes sharpe. 
For to shende that company. 

They sholdred all, and made hym rome. 

To wete that he wolde say. 
He toke the yeman by the honde, 

And gave hym all the playe ; 

1 I up pyght. W. up ypyght. C. 
2 Fere. W. in fere. C. 


He gave hym fyve marke for his wyne, 

There it laye on the molde, 
And bad it sholde be sette a broche, 

Drynke who so vvolde. 

Thus longe tar)'ed this gentyll knyght, 

Tyll that playe was done, 
So longe abode Robyn fastynge, 

Thre houres after the none. 


Lyth and lysten, gentyll men, 

All that now be here, 
Of Lytell Johan, that was the knyghtes man, 

Good myrthe ye shall here. 

It was upon a mery day, 

That yonge men wolde go shete,^ 

Lytell Johan fet his bowe anone, 
And sayd he wolde them mete. 

Thre tymes Lytell Johan shot about, 

And alway cleft ^ the wande. 
The proude sheryf of Notyngham 

By the markes gan stande. 

1 Shote. W. 2 He sleste (sliced?) W. 


The sheryf swore a full grete othe, 
By hym that dyed on a tree, 

This man is the best archere 
That yet sawe I me. 

Say me now, wyght yonge man, 
What is now thy name ? 

In what countre were thou ^ born. 
And where is thy wonnynge wan ? 

" In Holdernesse I was bore, 

I wys all of my dame, 
Men call me Reynolde Grenelefe, 

Whan I am at hame." 

" Say me, Reynaud Grenelefe, 
Wolte thou dwell with me ? 

And every yere I wyll the gyve 
Twenty marke to thy fee." 

I have a mayster, sayd Lytell Johan, 

A curteys knyght is he. 
May ye gete leve of hym, 

The better may it bee. 

The sheryfe gate Lytell Johan 
Twelve monethes of the knyght, 

Therfore he gave him ryght anone 
A good hors and a wyght. 

1 Thou wast. C. wast thou. Wh. 


Now is Lytel Johan the sheryffes man, 

He gyve us well to spede, 
But alway thought Lytell Johan 

To quyte hym well his mede. 

Now so god 1 me helpe, sayd Lytel Johan, 

And be my trewe lewt^, 
I shall be the worste servaunte to hym 

That ever yet had he. 

It befell upon a Wednesday, 

The sheryfe on hontynge was gone, 

And Lytel Johan lay in his bed, 
And was foryete at home. 

Therfore he was fastynge 

Tyl it was past the none, 
Good syr stuard, I pray the, 

Geve me to dyne, sayd Lytel Johan, 

It is to long for Grenelefe, 

Fastynge so long to be ; 
Therfore I pray the, stuarde. 

My dyner gyve thou me. 

Shalt thou never ete ne drynke, sayd the stuarde, 

Tyll my lord be come to towne. 
I make myn avowe to god, sayd Lytell Johan, 

I had lever to cracke thy crowne. 

1 Ge. W. f. God. 


The butler was ful uncurteys, 
There he stode on flore, 

He sterte to the buttery, 
And shet fast the dore. 

Lytell Johan gave the buteler such a rap, 

His backe yede nygh on two, 
Tho he lyved an hundreth wynter, 

The wors he sholde go. 

He sporned the dore with his fote, 

It went up wel and fyne, 
And there he made a large lyveray 

Both of ale and v/yne. 

Syth ye wyl not dyne, sayd Lytel Johan, 

I shall gyve you to drynke, 
And though ye lyve an hondred wynter, 

On Lytell Johan ye shall thynk. 

Lytell Johan ete, and Lytell [Johan] dronke, 

The whyle that he wolde. 
The sheryfe had in his kechyn a coke, 

A stoute man and a bolde. 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd the coke. 

Thou arte a shrewde hynde, 
In an housholde to dwel, 

For to ask thus to dyne. 


And there he lent Lytel Johan, 

Good strokes thre. 
I make myn avowe, sayd Lytell Johan, 

These strokes lyketh well me. 

Thou arte a bolde man and an hardy, 

And so thynketh me ; 
And or I passe fro this place, 

Asayed better shalt thou be. 

Lytell Johan drewe a good swerde, 
The coke toke another in honde ; 

They thought nothynge for to fle. 
But styfly for to stonde. 

There they fought sore togyder. 

Two myle way and more,i 
Myght neyther other harme done, 

The mountenaunce of an houre. 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd Lytell Johan, 

And be my trewe lewt^. 
Thou art one of the best swerdemen. 

That ever yet sawe I me. 

Coowdest thou shote as well in a bowe. 
To grene wood thou sholdest with me, 

And two tymes in the yere thy clothynge 
Ichaunged sholde be ; 

1 i.e. while a man might have walked two miles and upward. 


And every yere of Robyn Hode 
Twenty marke to thy fee. 

Put up thy swerde, sayd the coke, 
And felowes wyll we be. 

Then he fette to Lytell Johan 

The numbles of a doo, 
Good brede and full good wyne, 

They ete and dranke therto. 

And whan they had dronken well, 
Ther trouthes togyder they plyght, 

That they wolde be with Robyn 
That ylke same day at nyght. 

The dyde ^ them to the tresure hous, 
As fast as they myght gone, 

The lockes that were of good stele 
They brake them everychone ; 

They toke away the sylver vessell, 
And all that they myght get, 

Feces, masars, and spones, 
Wolde they non forgete ; 

Also they toke the good pence, 
Thre hondred pounde and three ; 

And dyde them strayt to Robyn Hode, 
Under the grene wode tre. 

1 Hyed, C. 


" God the save, my dere mayster, 

And Cryst the save and se." 
And than sayd Robyn to Lytell Johan, 

Welcome myght thou be ; 

And also be that fayre yemkn 

Thou bryngest there with the. 
What tydynges fro Notynghnm ? 

Lytell Johan, tell thou me. 

" Well the greteth the proude sheryfe. 

And sende the here by me 
His coke and his sylver vessell, 

And thre hondred pounde and thre." 

I make myn avow to god, sayd Robyn, 

And to the trenyte, 
It was never by his good wyll, 

This good is come to me. 

Lytell Johan hym there bethought, 

On a shrewed wyle,^ 
Fyve myle in the forest he ran, 

Hym happed at his wyll ; 

Than he met the proud sheryf, 

Huntynge with hounde and home, 
Lytell Johan coud his curteysye, 
And kneled hym beforne : 

1 Whyle. W. 


" God the save, my dere mayst^r, 

And Cryst the save and see." 
Raynolde Grenelefe, sayd the sheryfe, 

Where hast thou nowe be ? 

" I have be in this forest, 

A fayre syght can I se, 
It was one of the fayrest syghtes ^ 

That ever yet sawe I me ; 

Yonder I se a ryght fayre hart, 

His coloure is of grene, 
Seven score of dere upon an herde 

Be with hym all bedene ; 

His tynde are so sharp, mayster, 

Of sexty and well mo. 
That I durst not shote for drede 

Lest they wolde me sloo." 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd the sheryf, 

That syght wolde I fayn se. 
" Buske you thyderwarde, my dere mayster, 

Anone, and wende with me." 

The sheryfe rode, and Lytell Johan 

Of fote he was full smarte, 
And whan they came afore Robyn : 

" Lo, here is the mayster harte ! " 

1 Syght. W. sightes. C. 


Styll stode the proude sheryf, 

A sory man was he : 
"Wo worthe the,i Raynolde Grenelefe ! 

Thou hast now betrayed me." 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd Lytell Johan, 

Mayster, ye be to blame, 
I was mysserved of my dynere, 

When I was with you at hame. 

Soone he was to super sette. 

And served with sylver whyte ; 
And whan the sheryf se his vessell, 

For sorowe he myght not ete. 

Make good chere, sayd Robyn Hode, 

Sheryfe, for charyt^, 
And for the love of Lytell Johan, 

Thy lyfe is graunted to the. 

When they had supped well, 

The day was all agone, 
Robyn commaunded Lytell Johan 

To drawe of his hosen and his shone, 

His kyrtell and his cote a pye. 

That was furred well fyne, 
And take him a grene mant^ll. 

To lappe his body therin. 

1 Wo the worth. W. 


Robyn commaunded his wyght yong men, 

Under the grene wood tre, 
They shall lay in that same sorte ; 

That the sheryf myght them se. 

All nyght laye that proud sheryf, 
In his breche and in his sherte. 

No wonder it was in grene wode, 
Tho his sydes do smerte. 

Make glad chere, sayd Robyn Hode, 

Sheryfe, for charyt^, 
For this is our order I wys, 

Under the grene wood tre. 

This is harder order, sayd the sheryfe, 

Than ony anker or frere ; 
For al the golde in mery Englonde 

I wolde not longe dwell here. 

All these twelve monethes, sayd Robyn, 

Thou shalte dwell with me ; 
I shall the teche, proud sheryfe, 

An outlawe for to be. 

Or I here another nyght lye, sayd the sheryfe, 

Robyn, nowe I praye the, 
Smyte of my hede rather to-mome. 

And I forgyve it the. 


Lete me go, then sayd the sheryf, 

For saynt Charyt^, 
And I wyll be thy best frende 

That ever yet had the. 

Thou shalte swere me an othe, sayd Robyn, 

On my br>'ght bronde, 
Thou shalt never awayte me scathe, 

By water ne by londe ; 

And if thou fynde ony of my men, * 

By nyght or by day, 
Upon thyne othe thou shalt swere. 

To helpe them that thou may. 

Now have the sheryf iswore his othe, 

And home he began to gone. 
He was as full of grene wode 

As ever was hepe of stone. 


The sheryf dwelled in Notynghame, 
He was fayne that he was gone. 

And Robyn and his mery men 
Went to wode anone. 


Go we to dyner, sayd Lytell Johan. 

Robyn Hode sayd, Nay ; 
For I drede our lady be wroth with me, 

For she sent me not my pay. 

Have no dout, mayster, sayd Lytell Johan, 

Yet is not the sonne at rest, 
For I dare saye, and saufly swere, 

The knyght is trewe and trust. 

Take thy bo we in thy hande, sayd Robyn, 

Let Moch wende with the, 
And so shall Wyllyam Scathelock, 

And no man abyde with me, 

And walke up into the Sayles, 

And to Watlynge-strete, 
And wayte after ' some ' ^ unketh gest, 

Up-chaunce ye may them mete. 

Whether he be messengere, 

Or a man that myrthes can, 
Or yf he be a pore man, 

Of my good he shall have some. 

Forth then stert Lytel Johan, 

Half in tray and tene, 
And gyrde hym with a full good swerde, 

Under a mantel of grene. 

1 Such. W. 


They went up to the Sayles, 

These yemen all thre ; 
They loked est, they loked west, 

They myght no man se. 

But as ' they '^ loked in Bernysdale, 

By the hye waye. 
Than were they ware of two blacke monkes, 

Eche on a good palferay. 

Then bespake Lytell Johan, 

To Much he gan say, 
I dare lay my lyfe to wedde, 

That these monkes have brought our pay. 

Make glad chere, sayd Lytell Johan, 

And frese our bowes of ewe. 
And loke your hertes be seker and sad, 

Your strynges trusty and trewe. 

The monke hath fifty two men, 

And seven somers full stronge. 
There rydeth no bysshop in this londe 

So ryally, I understond. 

Brethern, sayd Lytell Johan, 

Here are no more but we thre : 
But we br^'nge them to dyner. 

Our mayster dare we not se. 

1 He. Old copies. 


Bende your bowes, sayd Lytell Johan, 

Make all yon ^ prese to stonde, 
The formost monke, his lyfe and his deth 

Is closed in my honde. 

Abyde, chorle monke, sayd Lytell Johan, 

No ferther that thou gone ; 
Yf thou doost, by dere worthy god. 

Thy death is in my honde. 

And evyll thryfte on thy hede, sayd Lytell Johan, 

Ryght under thy hattes bonde, 
For thou hast made our mayster wroth, 

He is fastynge so longe. 

Who is your mayster ? sayd the monke. 

Lytell Johan sayd, Robyn Hode. 
He is a stronge thefe, sayd the monke, 

Of hym herd I never good. 

Thou lyest, than sayd Lytell Johan, 

And that shall rewe the ; 
He is a yeman of the forest. 

To dyne he hath bode the. 

Much was redy With a bolte. 

Redly and a none. 
He set 2 the monke to fore the brest, 

To the grounde that he can gone. 

1 You. W. Make you yonder preste. C. 
. 2 Set. ' shet ' ? 


Of fyfty two wyght yonge men,i 

There abode not one, 
Saf a lytell page, and a grome 

To lede the somers with Johan.^ 

They brought the monke to the lodge dore, 

Whether he were loth or lefe, 
For to speke with Robyn Hode, 

Maugre in theyr tethe. 

Robyn dyde adowne his hode. 

The monke whan that he se ; 
The monke was not so curteyse, 

His hode then let he be. 

He is a chorle, mayster, by dere worthy god, 

Than said Lytell Johan. 
Thereof no force, sayd Robyn, 

For curteysy can he none. 

How many men, sayd Robyn, 

Had this monke, Johan ? 
*' Fyfty and two whan that we met. 

But many of them be gone." 

Let blowe a home, sayd Robin, 

That felaushyp may us knowe ; 
Seven score of wyght yemen. 

Came piyckynge on a rowe, 

1 Yemen. C. 2 Lytell Johan, O. CC. 


And everych of them a good mantMl, 

Of scarlet and of raye, 
All they came to good Robyn, 

To wyte what he wolde say. 

They made the monke to wasshe and wype, 

And syt at his denere, 
Robyn Hode and Lytel Johan 

They served ' him ' i bothe in fere. 

Do gladly, monke, sayd Robyn. 

Gramercy, syr, said he. 
" Where is your abbay, whan ye are at home, 

And who is your avow^ ? " 

. Saynt Mary abbay, sayd the monke, 
Though I be symple here. 
In what offyce? sayd Robyn. 
" Syr, the hye selerer." 

Ye be the more welcome, sayd Robyn, 

So ever mote I the. 
Fyll of the best wyne, sayd Robyn, 

This monke shall drynke to me. 

But I have grete mervayle, sayd Robyn, 

Of all this longe day, 
I drede our lady be wroth with me, 

She sent me not my pay. 

1 Them. O. CC. 


Have no doute, mayster, sayd Lytell Johan, 

Ye have no nede I saye, 
This monke it hath brought, I dare well swere, 

For he is of her abbay. 

And she was a borowe, sayd Robyn, 

Betwene a knyght and me, 
Of a lytell money that I hym lent. 

Under the grene wode tree ; 

And yf thou hast that sylver ibroughte, 

I praye the let me se, 
And I shall helpe the eftsones, 

Yf thou have nede of ^ me. 

The monke swore a full grete othe, 

With a sory chere, 
Of the borowehode thou spekest to me, 

Herde I never ere. 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd Robyn, 

Monke, thou arte to blame. 
For god is holde a ryghtwys man. 

And so is his dame. 

Thou toldest with thyn owne tonge, 

Thou may not say nay, 
How thou arte her servaunt. 

And servest her every day : 

1 To. W. 


And thou art made ^ her messengere, 

My money for to pay, 
Therfore I cun the more thanke, 

Thou arte come at thy day. 

What is in your cofers ? sayd Robyn, 

Trewe than tell thou me. 
Syr, he sayd, twenty marke, 

Al so mote I the. 

Yf there be no more, sayd Robyn, 

I wyll not one peny ; 
Yf thou hast myster of ony more, 

Syr, more I shall lende to the ; 

And yf I fynde more, sayd Robyn, 
I wys thou shalte it forgone ; 

For of thy spendynge sylver, monk, 
Therof wyll I ryght none. 

Go nowe forthe, Lytell Johan, 
And the trouth tell thou me ; 

If there be no more but twenty marke. 
No peny that I se. 

Lytell Johan spred his mantell downe, 

As he had done before, 
And he tolde out of the monkes male, 

Eyght hundreth pounde ^ and more. 

1 Nade. W. not in C. 2 Eyght pounde. W, 


Lytell Johan let it lye full styll, 
And went to his mayster in hast ; 

Syr, he sayd, the monke is trewe ynowe, 
Our lady hath doubled your cost 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd Robyn, 

Monke, what tolde I the ? 
Our lady is the trewest womkn, 

That ever yet founde I me. 

By dere worthy god, sayd Robyn, 

To seche all Englond thorowe, 
Yet founde I never to my pay 

A moche better borowe. 

Fyllof the bestwyne, dohymdrynke, sayd Robyn ; 

And grete well thy lady hende, 
And yf she have nede of ^ Robyn Hode, 

A frende she shall hym fynde ; 

And yf she nedeth ony more sylv^r, 

Come thou agayne to me, 
And, by this token she hath me sent, 

She shall have such thre. 

The monke was going to London ward, 

There to holde grete mote, 
The knyght that rode so hye on hors. 

To brynge hym under fote. 

1 To. W. 


Whether be ye away ? sayd Robyn. 

" Syr, to maners in this londe, 
Too reken with our reves, 

That have done moch wronge." 

" Come now forth, Lytell Johan, 

And harken to my tale, 
A better yeman I knowe none 

To seke a roonkes male." 

How moch is in yonder other 'cofer?'^ sayd 
The soth must we see. [Robyn, 

By our lady, than sayd the monke. 
That were no curteysye. 

To bydde a man to dyner, 

And syth hym bete and bynde. 
It is our olde maner, sayd Robyn, 

To leve but lytell behynde. 

The monke toke the hors with spore. 

No lenger wolde he abyde. 
Aske to drynke, than sayd Robyn, 

Or that ye forther ryde. 

Nay, for god, than sayd the monke. 

Me reweth I cam so nere, 
For better chepe I myght have dyned, 

In Blythe or in Dankestere. 

1 Corser. W. courser. C. 


Crete well your abbot, sayd Robyn, 

And your pryour, I you pray, 
And byd hym send me such a monke, 

To dyner every day. 

Now lete we that monke be styll. 

And speke we of that knyght, 
Yet he came to holde his day 

Whyle that it was lyght. 

He dyde hym streyt to Bernysdale, 

Under the grene wode tre, 
And he founde there Robyn Hode, 

And all his mery meyn^. 

The knyght lyght downe of his good palfrky, 

Robyn whan he gan see, 
So curteysly he dyde adoune his hode, 

And set hym on his knee. 

" God the save, good Robyn Hode, 

And al this company." 
" Welcome be thou, gentyll knyght, 

And ryght welcome to me." 

Than bespake hym Robyn Hode, 

To that knyght so fre. 
What nede dryveth the to grene wode ? 

I pray the, syr knyght, tell me. 


And welcome be thou, gentyl knyght, 

Why hast thou be so longe ? 
" For the abbot and the hye justyce 

Wolde have had my londe." 

Hast thou thy lond agayne ? ^ sayd Robyn, 

Treuth than tell thou me. 
Ye, for god, sayd the knyght, 

And that thanke I god and the. 

But take not a grefe, I have be so longe ;2 

I came by a wrastelynge. 
And there I dyd holpe a pore yemkn. 

With wronge was put behynde. 

Nay, for god, sayd Robyn, 

Syr knyght, that thanke I the ; 
What man that helpeth a good yemkn, 

His frende than wyll I be. 

Have here foure hondred pounde, than sayd the 
The whiche ye lent to me ; [knyght, 

And here is also twenty marke 
For your curteysy. 

Nay, for god, than sayd Robyn, 

Thou broke it well for ay. 
For our lady, by her selerer, 

Hath sent to me my pay ; 

1 Gayne. W. 
2 But take not a grefe, sayd the knyght, 
That I have be so longe. O. CC. 


And yf I toke it twyse,^ 

A shame it were to me : 
But trewely, gentyll knyght, 

Welcom arte thou to me. 

Whan Robyn had tolde his tale, 

He leugh and had good chere. 
By my trouthe, then sayd the knyght, 

Your money is redy here. 

Broke it well, sayd Robyn, 

Thou gentyll knyght so fre ; 
And welcome be thou, gentill knyght, 

Under my trystell ^ tree. 

But what shall these bowes do ? sayd Robyn, 

And these arowes ifedered fre ? 
By god, than sayd the knyght, 

A pore present to the. 

" Come now forth, Lytell Johan, 

And go to my treasure. 
And brynge me there foure hondred pounde. 

The monke over-tolde it me. 

Have here foure hondred pounde, 

Thou gentyll knyght and trewe, 
And bye hors and harnes good, 

And gylte thy spores all newe : 

I I twyse. W. ' 2 Thi trusty. C. 



And yf thou fayle ony spendynge, 

Com to Robyn Hode, 
And by my trouth thou shalt none fayle 

The whyles I have any good. 

And broke well thy four hundred pound, 

Whiche I lent to the, 
And make thy selfe no more so bare, 

By the counsell of me." 

Thus than holpe hym good Robyn, 
The knyght all of his care.^ 

God, that sytteth ^ in heven hye, 
Graunte us well to fare. 


Now hath the knyght his leve itake, 
And wente hym on his way ; 

Robyn Hode and his mery men 
Dwelled styll full many a day. 

Lyth and lysten, gentil men. 
And herken what I shall say, 

How the proud sheryfe of Notyngham 
Dyde crye a full fay re play ; 

1 This care. W. 2 Syt. W. 


That all the best archers of the north 

ShoWe come upon a day, 
And 'he' that shoteth 'alder' best^ 

The game shall bere away. 

" He that shoteth 'alder' 2 best 

Furthest fayre and lowe, 
At a payre of fynly buttes, 

Under the grene wode shawe, 

A ryght good arowe he shall have, 

The shaft of sylver whyte, 
The heade and the feders of ryche red golde, 

In Englond is none lyke." 

This then herde good Robyn, 

Under his trystell tre : 
" Make you redy, ye wyght yonge men, 

That shotynge wyll I se. 

Buske you, my mery yonge men. 

Ye shall go with me ; 
And I wyll wete the shryves fayth, 

Tre we and yf he be." 

Whan they had theyr bowes ibent, 

Theyr takles fedred fre, 
Seven score of wyght yonge men 

Stode by Robyns kne. 

1 And that shoteth al ther best. W. 
And they that shote al of the best. C. 

2 Al theyre. W. al of the. C. 


Whan they cam to Notyngham, 
The buttes were fayre and longe, 

Many was the bolde archere 
That shoted with bowes stronge. 

" There shall but syx shote with me, 
The other shal kepe my hede, 

And stande with good bowes bent 
That I be not desceyved." 

The fourth outlawe his bowe gan bende, 
And that was Robyn Hode, 

And that behelde the proude sheryfe, 
All by the but he stode. 

Thryes Robyn shot about, 

And alway he slist ^ the wand, 

And so dyde good Gylberte, 
With the whyte hande. 

Lytell Johan and good Scatheloke 
Were archers good and fre ; 

Lytell Much and good Reynolde, 
The worste wolde they not be. 

Whan they had shot aboute. 
These archours fayre and good. 

Evermore was the best, 
Forsoth, Robyn Hode. 

1 They slist. W. he clefte. C. 


Hym was delyvered the goode arow, 

For best worthy was he ; 
He toke the yeft so curteysly, 

To grene wode wolde he. 

They cryed out on Robyn Hode, 
And great homes gan they blowe. 

Wo worth the, treason ! sayd Robyn, 
Full evyl thou art to knowe. 

And wo be thou, thou proud sheryf. 

Thus gladdynge thy gest. 
Other wyse thou behote me 

In yonder wylde forest ; 

But had I the in grene wode. 

Under my trystell tre, 
Thou sholdest leve me a better wedde 

Than thy trewe lewt^. 

Full many a bowe there was bent. 

And arowes let they glyde, 
Many a kyrtell there was rent. 

And hurt many a syde. 

The outlawes shot was so stronge, 

That no man myght them dryve. 
And the proud sheryfes men 

They fled away full blyve.^ 

1 Belyve. C. 


Robyn sawe the busshement to-broke, 
In grene wode he wolde have be, 

Many an arowe there was shot 
Amonge that company. 

Lytell Johan was hurte full sore, 
With an arowe in his kne. 

That he myght neyther go nor ryde ; 
It was full grete pyt^. 

Mayster, then sayd Lytell Johan, 

If ever thou lovest me, 
And for that ylke lordes love, 

That dyed upon a tre. 

And for the medes of my servyce, 

That I have served the, 
Lete never the proude sheryf 

Alyve now fynde me ; 

But take out thy browne swerde. 
And smyte all of my hede. 

And gyve me woundes dede and wyde, 
No lyfe on me be lefte.^ 

I wolde not that, sayd Robyn, 
Johan, that thou were slawe. 

For all the golde in mery Englond, 
Though it lay now on a rawe 

1 That I after eate no bread. C. 


God forbede, sayd lytell Much, 

That dyed on a tre, 
That thou sholdest, Lytell Johan, 

Parte our company. 

Up he toke him on his backe, 

And bare hym well a myle, 
Many a tyme he layd hym downe 

And shot another whyle. 

Then was there a fayre cast^ll, 

A lytell within the wode, 
Double-dyched it was about, 

And walled, by the rode ; 

And there dwelled that gentyll knyght, 

Syr Rychard at the Lee, 
That Robyn had lent his good. 

Under the grene wode tree. 

In he toke good Robyn, 

And all his company : 
" Welcome be thou, Robyn Hode, 

Welcome arte thou [to] me ; 

And moche [I] thanke the of thy comfort, 

And of thy curteysye. 
And of thy grete kyndenesse. 

Under the grene wode tre ; 


I love no man in all this worlde 

So moch as I do the ; 
For all the proud sheryf of Notyngham, 

Ryght here shalt thou be. 

Shyt the gates, and drawe the bridge, 

And let no man com in ; 
And arme you well, and make you redy, 

And to the walle ye wynne. 

For one thyng, Robyn, I the behote, 

I swere by saynt Quyntyn, 
These twelve dayes thou wonest with me, 

To suppe, ete, and dyne." 

Bordes were layed, and clothes spred, 

Reddely and anone ; 
Robyn Hode and his mery men 

To mete gan they gone. 


Lythe and lysten, gentylmen. 
And herken unto your songe ; 

How the proude sheryfe of Notyngham, 
And men of armes stronge, 


Full faste came to the hye sheryfe, 

The countre up to rout, 
And they beset the knyghts castHl, 

The walles all about. 

The proude sheryf loude gan crye, 

And sayd, Thou traytour knyght, 
Thou kepeste here the kynges enemye, 

Agayne the lawes and ryght. 

" Syr, I \vyll avowe that I have done, 

The dedes that here ^ be dyght, 
Upon all the londes that I have, 

As I am a trewe knyght. 

Wende forthe, syrs, on your waye. 

And doth no more to me, 
Tyll ye wytte our kynges wyll 

What he woll say to the." 

The sheref thus had his answere, 

With out ony leasynge, 
Forthe he yode to London toune, 

All for to tel our kynge. 

There he tolde him of that knyght, 

And eke of Robyn Hode, 
And also of the bolde archeres, 

That noble were and good. 

1 Thou. W. 


" He wolde avowe that he had done, 
To mayntayne the outlawes stronge, 

He wolde be lorde, and set you at nought, 
In all the north londe." 

I woll be at Notyngham, sayd the kynge, 

Within this fourtynyght, 
And take I wyll Robyn Hode, 

And so I wyll that knyght. 

Go home, thou proud sheryf, 

And do as I bydde the,^ 
And ordayne good archeres inowe, 

Of all the wyde countree. 

The sheryf had his leve itake, 

And went hym on his way : 
And Robyn Hode to grene wode [went] 

Upon a certayn day ; 

And Lytell Johan was hole of the arowe, 

That shote was in his kne. 
And dyde hym strayte to Robyn Hode, 

Under the grene wode tre. 

Robyn Hode walked in the foreste. 

Under the leves grene. 
The proude sheryfe of Notyngham, 

Therfore he had grete tene. 

1 The bydde. OCC. 



The sheryf there fayled of Robyn Hode, 

He myght not have his pray, 
Then he awayted that gentyll knyght, 

Bothe by nyght and by daye. 

Ever he awayted that gentyll knyght, 

Syr Rychard at the Lee ; 
As he went on haukynge by the ryver syde, 

And let his haukes flee, 

Toke he there this gentyll knyght. 

With men of armes stronge, 
And lad hym home to Notyngham warde, 

Ibonde both fote and honde.^ 

The sheryf swore a full grete othe, 

By hym that dyed on a tre, 
He had lever than an hondrede pounde, 

That Robyn Hode had he.^ 

Then the lady, the knyghtes wyfe, 

A fayre lady and fre, 
She set her on a gode palfrky, 

To grene wode anon rode she. 

When she came to the forest. 

Under the grene wode tre, 
Founde she there Robyn Hode, 

And all his fayre meyn^. 

1 Honde and fote. W. foote and hande. C. 
2 That he had Robyn Hode. W. 


" God the save, good Robyn Hode,^ 

And all thy company ; 
For our dere ladyes ^ love, 

A bone graunte thou me. 

Let 3 thou never my wedded lorde 

ShamfuUy slayne to be ; * 
He is fast ibounde to Notyngham warde. 

For the love of the." 

Anone then sayd good Robyn, 

To that lady fre. 
What man hath your lorde itake ? 

The proude shirife, than sayd she.^ 

[The proude sheryfe hath hym itake] 

Forsoth as I the say ; 
He is not yet thre myles, 

Passed on ' his '^ waye. 

Up then sterte good Robyn, 
As a man that had be wode : 

" Buske you, my mery younge men, 
For hym that dyed on a rode ; 

1 God the good Robyn. W. 2 Lady. W. ' Late. 

4 Shamly I slayne be. W. ^ Por soth as I the say. W. 

« Your. W. You may them over take. C. 


And he that this sorowe forsaketh, 

By hym that dyed on a tre, 
And by him that al thinges maketh, 

No lenger shall dwell with me." ^ 

Sone there were good bowes ibent, 

Mo than seven score, 
Hedge ne dyche spared they none, 

That was them before. 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd Robyn, 

The knyght wolde I fayn se, 
And yf I may hym take, 

Iquyt than shall he^ bee. 

And whan they came to Notyngham, 

They walked in the strete, 
And with the proud sheryf, I wys, 

Sone gan they mete. 

Abyde, thou proud sheryf, he sayd, 

Abyde and speake with me, 
Of some tydynges of our kynge, 

I wolde fayne here of the. 

This seven yere, by dere worthy god, 

Ne yede I so fast on fete, 
I make myn avowe to god, thou proud sheryfe, 

' It ' 3 is not for thy good. 

1 Shall he never in grene wode be Nor longer dwell with me. W. 

2 It. W. 3 At. W. That. C— good] boote. Wh. 


Robyn bent a good bowe, 

An arrowe he drewe at his wyll, 

He hyt so the proud sheryf, 

Upon the grounde he lay full styll ; 

And or he myght up aryse, 

On his fete to stonde, 
He smote of the sheryves hede, 

With his bryght bronde. 

" Lye thou there, thou proud sheryf, 

Evyll mote thou thryve ; 
There myght no man to the trust. 

The whyles thou were alyve." 

His men drewe out theyr bryght swerdes, 
That were so sharpe and kene, 

And layde on the sheryves men, 
And dryved them downe bydene. 

Robyn stert to that knyght, 

And cut a two his bonde,^ 
And toke hym in his hand a bowe. 

And bade hym by hym stonde. 

" Leve thy hors the behynde, 

And lerne for to renne ; 
Thou shalt with me to grene wode, 

Through myre, mosse and fenne ; 

1 Hoode. W. bande. C. 


Thou shalt with me to grene wode, 

Without ony leasynge, 
Tyll that I have gete us grace, 

Of Edwarde our comly kynge." 


The kynge came to Notynghame, 
With knyghtes in grete araye, 

For to take that gentyll knyght, 
And Robyn Hood, yf ^ he may. 

He asked men of that countr^, 

After Robyn Hode, 
And after that gentyll knyght. 

That was so bolde and stout. 

Whan they had tolde hym the case, 
Our kynge understonde ther tale, 

And seased in his honde 
The knyghtes londes all, 

All the passe of Lancasshyre, 
He went both ferre and nere, 

Tyll he came to Plomton parke. 
He fay 1yd many of his dere. 

1 And yf. W. 


There our kynge was wont to se 

Herdes many one, 
He coud unneth fynde one dere, 

That bare ony good home. 

The kynge was wonder wroth withall, 

And swore by the trynyt^, 
" I wolde I had Robyn Hode, 

With eyen I myght hym se ; 

And he that wolde smyte of the knyghtes hede 

And brynge it to me, 
He shall have the knyghtes londes, 

Syr Rycharde at the Le ; 

I gyve it hym with my charter. 

And sele it with my honde, 
To have and holde for ever-more, 

In all mery Englonde." 

Than bespake a fayre olde knyght, 

That was treue in his fay, 
A, my lege lorde the kynge. 

One worde I shall you say ; 

There is no man in this countr^ 

May have the knyghtes londes, 
Whyle Robyn Hode may ryde or gone, 

And here a bowe in his hondes ; 


That he ne shall lese his hede, 
That is the best ball in his hode : 

Give it no man, my lorde the kynge, 
That ye wyll any good. 

Half a yere dwelled our comly kynge, 

In Notyngham, and well more, 
Coude he not here of Robyn Hode, 

In what countre that he were ; 

But alway went good Robyn 

By halke and eke by hyll, 
And alway slewe the kynges dere, 

And welt them at his wyll. ' 

Than bespake a proude fostere, 

That stode by our kynges kne. 
If ye wyll se good Robyn, 

Ye must do after me ; 

Take fyve of the best knyghtes 

That be in your lede. 
And walke downe by ' yon ' ^ abbay, 

And gete you monkes wede. 

And I wyll be your ledes man, 

And lede you the way. 
And or ye come to Notyngham, 

Myn hede then dare I lay, 

1 Your. OCC. 


That ye shall mete with good Robyn, 

On lyve yf that he be, 
Or ye come to Notyngham, 

With eyen ye shall hym se. 

Full hastly our kynge was dyght, 
So were his knyghtes fyve, 

Everych of them in monkes wede, 
And hasted them thyder blyth. 

Our kynge was grete above his cole, 
A brode hat on his crowne, 

Ryght as he were abbot-lyke, 
They rode up in-to the towne. 

Styf botes our kynge had on, 

Forsoth as I you say, 
He rode syngynge to grene wode, 

The covent was clothed in graye. 

His male hors, and his grete som^rs, 
Folowed our kynge behynde, 

Tyll they came to grene wode, 
A myle under the lynde, 

There they met with good Robyn, 

Stondynge on the waye. 
And so dyde many a bolde archere. 

For soth as I you say. 


Robyn toke the kynges hors, 

Hastely in that stede, 
And sayd, Syr abbot, by your leve, 

A whyle ye must abyde ; 

We be yemen of this foreste, 

Under the grene wode tre, 
We lyve by our kynges dere, 

Other shyft have not we ; ^ 

And ye have chyrches and rentes both, 

And gold full grete plent^ ; 
Gyve us some of your spendynge, 

Forsaynt Charyt^.2 

Than bespake our cumly kynge, 

Anone than sayd he, 
I brought no more to grene wode, 

But forty pounde with me ; 

1 Under the grene wode tre. W. 

2 This saint is also mentioned by Chaucer in the Sompnour's 
tale ; by Spenser, in his 5th eclogue ; in the Downfall of Robert 
Earl of Huntington, 1601 ; and in one of Ophelia's songs in 
Hamlet. (See a note upon this last passage in the edition of 
1793, vol. XV. p. 163.) Mr. Steevens's assertion that "Saint 
Charity is a known saint among the Roman Catholics," may be 
supported by infallible authority. " We read, " says Dr. Douglas, 
"in the Martyrology on the first of August — Romsfe passio 
sanctarum virginum, Fidei, Spei, et Charitatis, quae sub Hadriano 
principe martyris coronam adeptae sunt " (Criterion, p. 68). 
Pierre Nadal, commonly called Petrus de Natalibus, in his 
Catalogus Sanctorum, has given the history of the saints Faith, 
Hope, and Charity, the daughters of St. Sophia (or Wisdom). 
Nothing can be too absurd for superstition. 


I have layne at Notyngham, 

This fourtynyght with our kynge, 

And spent I have full moche good, 
On many a grete lordynge ; 

And I have but forty pounde, 

No more than have I me, 
But yf I had an hondred pounde, 

I would geve it to the.^ 

Robyn toke the forty pounde, 
And departed it in two partye, 

Halfendell he gave his mery men, 
And bad them mery to be. 

Full curteysly Robyn gan say, 
Syr, have this for your spendyng. 

We shall mete a nother day. 

Gramercy, than sayd our kynge ; 

But well the greteth Edwarde our kynge, 

And sent to the his seale. 
And byddeth the com to Notyngham, 

Both to mete and mele. 

He toke out the brode tarpe,^ 

And sone he lete hym se ; 
Robyn coud his courteysy. 

And set hym on his kne : 

1 I vouche it halfe on the. W. 2 Seale. C. 


*' I love no man in all the worlde 

So well as I do my kynge, 
Welcome is my lordes seale ; 

And, monke, for thy tydynge, 

Syr abbot, for thy tydynges. 

To day thou shalt dyne with me. 

For the love of my kynge, 
Under my trystell tre." 

Forth he lad our comly kynge. 

Full fayre by the honde. 
Many a dere there was slayne. 

And full fast dyghtande. 

Robyn toke a full grete home, 

And loude he can blowe. 
Seven score of wyght yonge men. 

Came redy on a rowe, 

All they kneeled on theyr kne. 

Full fayre before Robyn. 
The kygne sayd hymselfe untyll, 

And swore by saynt Austyn, 

Here is a wonder semely syght. 
Me thynketh, by goddes pyne ; 

His men are more at his byddynge. 
Then my men be at myn. 


Full hastly was theyr dyner idyght, 

And therto gan they gone, 
They served our kynge with al theyr myght, 

Both Robyn and Lytell Johan. 

Anone before our kynge was set 

The fatte venyson, 
The good whyte brede, the good red wyne, 

And therto the fyne ale browne.^ 

Make good chere, sayd Robyn, 

Abbot, for charyt^ ; 
And for this ylke tydynge, 

Blyssed mote thou be. 

Now shalte thou se what lyfe we lede, 

Or thou hens wende, 
Than thou may enfourme our kynge. 

Whan ye togyder lende. 

Up they sterte all in hast, 

Theyr bowes were smartly bent, 

Our kynge was never so sore agast, 
He wende to have be shente. 

Two yerdes there were up set, 

There to gan they gange ; 
By fifty pase, our kynge sayd. 

The merkes were to longe. 

1 And browne. W. 


On every syde a rose garlonde, 

They shot under the lyne. 
Who so fayleth of the rose garlonde, sayd Robyn, 

His takyll he shall tyne, 

And yelde it to his mayster, 

Be it never so fyne, 
For no man wyll I spare, 

So drynke I ale or wyne. 

And here a buffet on his hede 

I wys 1 ryght all bare. 
And all that fell in Robyns lote. 

He smote them wonder sare. 

Twyse Robyn shot aboute, 

And ever he cleved the wande. 
And so dyde good Gylberte, 

With the whyte^ hand. 

Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke, 

For nothyng wolde they spare. 
When they fayled of the garlonde, 

Robyn smote them full sare. 

At the last shot that Robyn shot, 

For all his frendes fare. 
Yet he fayled of the garlonde, 

Thre fyngers and mare. 

1 A wys. W. For that shall be his fyne. C. 

2 Good whyte. W. lilly white. C. 


Than bespake good Gylberte, 

And thus he gan say : 
Mayster, he sayd, your takyll is lost, 

Stand forth and take your pay. 

If it be so, sayd Robyn, 

That may no better be ; 
Syr abbot, I delyver the myn arowe, 

I pray the, syr, serve thou me. 

It falleth not for myn order, sayd our kynge, 

Robyn, by thy leve. 
For to smyte no good yemkn. 

For doute I sholde hym greve. 

Smyte on boldely, sayd Robyn, 

I give the large leve. 
Anone our kynge, with that worde. 

He folde up his sieve, 

And sych a buffet he gave Robyn, 
To grounde he yede full nere. 

I make myn avowe to god, sayd Robyn, 
Thou arte a stalworthe frere ; 

There is pith in thyn arme, sayd Robyn, 
I trowe thou canst well shote. 

Thus our kynge and Robyn Hode 
Togeder than they met. 


Robyn behelde our comly kynge 

Wystly in the face, 
So dyde syr Richarde at the Le, 

And kneled downe in that place ; 

And so dyde all the wylde outlawes, 

Whan they se them knele. 
*' My lorde the kynge of Englonde, 

Now I knowe you well." 

Mercy, then Robyn sayd to our kynge, 

Under your trystyll tre, 
Of thy goodnesse and thy grace, 

For my men and me ! 

Yes, for god, sayd Robyn, 

And also god me save ; 
I aske mercy, my lorde the kynge, 

And for my men I crave. 

Yes, for god, than sayd our kynge 

Thy peticion I graunt the. 
With that thou leve the grene wode. 

And all thy company : 

And come home, syr, to my courte, 

And there dwell with me.^ 
I make myn avowe to god, sayd Robyn, 

And ryght so shall it be ; 

1 And therto sent I me. W. 


I wyll come to your courte, 
Your servyse for to se, 

And brynge with me of my men 
Seven score and thre. 

But me lyke well your servyse, 
I come agayne full soone, 

And shote at the donne dere, 
As I am wonte to done. 


Haste thou ony grene cloth, sayd our kynge, 
That thou wylte sell nowe to me ? 

Ye, for god, sayd Robyn, 
Thyrty yerdes and thre. 

Robyn, sayd our kynge, 

Now pray I the. 
To sell me some of that cloth, 

To me and my meyn^. 

Yes, for god,i then sayd Robyn, 

Or elles I were a fole ; 
Another day ye wyll me clothe, 

I trowe, ayenst the Yole. 

i Good. OCC. 


The kynge kest of his cote then, 

A grene garment he dyde on, 
And every knyght had so, I wys. 

They clothed them full soone.^ 

Whan they were clothed in Lyncolne grene, 

They kest away theyr graye. 
Now we shall to Notyngham, 

All thus our kynge gan say. 

Theyr bowes bente and forth they went, 

Shotynge all in-fere, 
Towarde the towne of Notyngham, 

Outlawes as they were. 

Our kynge and Robyn rode togyder. 

For soth as I you say. 
And they shote plucke-buffet, 

As they went by the way ; 

And many a buffet our kynge wan 

Of Robyn Hode that day ; 
And nothynge spared good Robyn 

Our kynge in his pay. 

So god me helpe, sayd our kynge, 

Thy game is nought to lere, 
I sholde not get a shote of the, 

Though I shote all this yere. 

1 Another had full sone. W. 


All the people of Notyngham 

They stode and behelde, 
They sawe nothynge but mantels of grene 

That covered all the felde ; 

Than every man to other gan say, 

I drede our kynge be slone ; 
Come Robyn Hode to the towne, I wys, 

On lyve he leveth not one.^ 

Full hastly they began to fle, 

Both yemen and knaves, 
And olde wyves that myght evyll goo, 

They hypped on theyr staves. 

The kynge loughe 2 full fast, 

And commanded theym agayne ; 

When they se our comly kynge, 
I wys they were full fayne. 

They ete and dranke, and made them glad, 

And sange with notes hye. 
Than bespake our comly kynge 

To syr Rycharde at the Lee : 

He gave hym there his londe agayne, 

A good man he bad hym be. 
Robyn thanked our comly kynge, 

And set hym on his kne. 

1 Lefte never one. W. 2 Lughe. W. 


Had Robyn dwelled in the kynges courte 

But twelve monethes and thre, 
That he had spent an hondred pounde, 

And all his mennes fe. 

In every place where Robyn came, 

Ever more he layde downe, 
Both for knyghtes and for squyres, 

To gete hym grete renowne. 

By than the yere was all agone, 

He had no man but twayne, 
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke, 

Wyth hym all for to gone. 

Robyn sawe yonge men shote, 

Full fayre ^ upon a day, 
Alas ! than sayd good Robyn, 

My welthe is went away. 

Somtyme I was an archere good, 

A styffe and eke a stronge, 
I was commytted 2 the best archere, 

That was in mery Englonde. 

Alas ! then sayd good Robyn, 

Alas and well a woo ! 
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge, 

Sorowe wyll me sloo. 

1 Ferre. W. 2 Commended for. C. 


Forth than went Robyn Hode, 
Tyll he came to our kynge : 

" My lorde the kynge of Englonde, 
Graunte me myn askynge. 

I made a chapell in Bernysdale, 

That semely is to se, 
It is of Mary Magdalene, 

And thereto wolde I be ; 

I myght never in this seven nyght, 
No tyme to slepe ne wynke, 

Nother all these seven dayes, 
N other ete ne drynke. 

Me longeth sore to Bernysdale, 

I may not be therfro, 
Barefote and wolwarde I have hyght 

Thyder for to go." 

Yf it be so, than sayd our kynge. 

It may no better be ; 
Seven nyght I gyve the leve. 

No lengre, to dwell fro me. 

Gramercy, lorde, then sayd Robyn, 
And set hym on his kne ; 

He toke his leve full courteysly. 
To grene wode then went he. 


Whan he came to grene wode, 

In a mery mornynge, 
There he herde the notes small 

Of byrdes mery syngynge. v 

It is ferre gone, sayd Robyn, 

That I was last here, 
Me lyste a lytell for to shote 

At the donne dere. 

Robyn slewe a full grete harte. 

His home than gan he blow, 
That all the outlawes of that forest, 

That home coud they knowe, 

And gadred them togyder, 

In a lytell thro we, 
Seven score of wight yonge men, 

Came redy on a rowe ; 

And fayre dyde of theyr hodes, 

And set them on theyr kne : 
Welcome, they sayd, our mayst^r. 

Under this grene wode tre. 

Robyn dwelled in grene wode. 

Twenty yere and two. 
For all drede of Edwarde our kynge 

Agayne wolde he not goo. 


Yet he was begyled, I wys, 

Through a wycked womkn, 
The pryoresse of Kyrkesly, 

That nye was of his kynne, 

For the love of a knyght, 

Syr Roger of Donkest^r,^ 
That was her owne speciall, 

Full evyll mote they ' fare.' ^ 

They toke togyder theyr counsell 

Robyn Hode for to sle, 
And how they myght best do that dede, 

His banis for to be. 

Than bespake good Robyn, 

In place where as he stode, 
To morow I muste to Kyrkesley, 

Craftely to be leten blode. 

Sir Roger of Donkestere, 

By the pryoresse he lay, 
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode 

Through theyr false playe. 

Cryst have mercy on his soule, 

That dyed on the rode 1 
For he was a good outlawe, 

And dyde pore men moch god. 

1 Donkesley. W. 2 The. OCC. 



This curious, and hitherto unpublished, and even unheard of, 
old piece is given from a manuscript among Bishop More's col- 
lections, in the public hbrary of the University of Cambridge 
(Ee. 4. 35). The writing, which is evidently that of a vulgar 
and illiterate person, appears to be of the age of Henry the 
Seventh, that is, about the year 1500 ; but the composition (which 
he has irremediably corrupted) is probably of an earlier period, 
and much older, no doubt, than " The Play of Robyn Hode," 
which seems allusive to the same story. At the end of the 
original is *'Expleycyt Robyn Hode." 



In schomer, when the leves spryng, 
The bloschems on every bowe, 

So merey doyt the berdys syng, 
Yn wodys merey now. 

Herkens, god yemen, 

Comley, cortessey, and god, 
On of the best that yever bar bou, 

Hes name was Roben Hode. 

Roben Hood was the yemans name, 
That was boyt corteys and fre ; 

For the loffe of owr ladey, 
All wemen werschep ' he.' ^ 

Bot as the god yeman stod on a day, 

Among hes mery man^y, 
He was war of a prowd potter, 

Cam dryfyng owyr the ' ley.' ^ 

Yonder comet a prod potter, seyde ^ Roben, 
That long hayt hantyd this wey, 

He was never so corteys a man 
On peney of pa wage to pay. 

1 Ye, ' Lefe. * Syde. 

[and the potter]. 83 

Y met hem bot at Wentbreg, seyde^ Lytyll John, 
And therfor yeffell mot he the, 

Seche thre strokes he me gafe, 
Yet they cleffe by my seydys. 

Y ley forty shilhngs, seyde Lytyll John, 
To pay het thes same day, 

Ther ys nat a man among hus 2 all 
A wed schall make hem ley.^ 

Her ys forty shillings, seyde Rob^n, 

Mor, and thow dar say, 
That y schall make that prowde potter, 

A wed to me schall he ley. 

Ther thes money they leyde. 

They toke het a yeman to kepe ; 
Roben befor the potter he breyde, 

' And up to hem can lepe.' * 

Handys apon hes horse he leyde. 
And bad * hem ' ^ stonde foil stell. 

The potter schorteley to hem seyde, 
Felow, what ys they well ? 

All thes thre yer, and mor, potter, he seyde, 

Thow hast hantyd thes wey. 
Yet wer tow never so cortys a man 

One peney of pauage to pay. 

1 Syde. 2 Hys. 3 Leffe. 

* A bad hem stond stell. ^ The potter. 


What ys they name, seyde the potter, 
For pauage thow aske of me ? 

" Roben Hod ys mey name, 
A wed schall thow leffe me." 

Wed well y non leffe, seyde the potter. 
Nor pavag well y non pay ; 

Awey they honde fro mey horse, 
Y well the tene eyls, be mey fay. 

The potter to hes cart he went, 

He was not to seke, 
A god to-hande staffe therowt he hent, 

Befor Roben he ' lepe.' ^ 

Roben howt with a swerd bent, 
A bokeler on hes honde [therto] ; 

The potter to Roben he went. 

And seyde, Felow, let mey horse go. 

Togeder then went thes two yemen, 
Het was a god seyt to se ; 

Therof low Robyn hes men, 
Ther they stod onder a tre. 

Leytell John to hes felowhes ^ seyde, 
Yend potter welle steffeley stonde. 

The potter, with a caward stroke, 
Smot the bokeler owt of hes honde ; 

1 Leppyd. ^ Felow he. 

[and the potter]. 85 

And ^ ar Roben meyt get hen agen, 

Hes bokeler at hes fette, 
The potter yn the neke hem toke, 

To the gronde sone he yede. 

That saw Roben hes men, 

As thay stode ender a bow ; 
Let us helpe owr master, seyed Lytell John, 

Yonder potter els well ^ hem sclo. 

These yemen went ^ with a breyde, 

To ' ther ' * master they cam. 
Leytell John to hes master seyde, 

Ho haet the wager won ? 

Schall y haflf yowr forty shillings, seyde Lytel ^ 
Or ye, master, schall haffe myne ? [John, 

YefF they wer a hundred, seyde Rob^n, 
Y feythe, they ben all theyne. 

Het ys fol leytell cortesey, seyde the potter. 
As y haffe harde weyse men saye, 

Yeff a por yeman com dry wyng ower the wey, 
To let hem of hes gorney. 

Be mey trowet, thow seys soyt, seyde Roben, 

Thow seys god yemenrey ; ^ 
And thow dreyffe forthe yevery day, 

Thow schalt never be let for me. 

1 A. 2 Seyde hels. ' Went yemen. 

■* Thes. 5 Lytl. * Yemerey. 


Y well prey the, god potter, 

A felischepe well thow haffe ? 
Geffe me they clothyng, and thow schalt hafe 
Y well go to Notynggam. [myne ; 

Y grant ^ therto, seyde the potter, 
Thow schalt feynde me a felow gode ; 

Bot thow can sell mey pottes well, 
Com ayen as thow yode.2 

Nay, be mey trowt, seyde Roben, 

And then y bescro mey hede, 
Yeffe y bryng eney pottes ayen, 

And eney weyfFe well hem chepe. 

Than spake Ley tell John, 

And all hes felowhes heynd. 
Master, be well war of the screffe of Notynggam, 

For he ys leytell howr frende. 

Thorow the helpe of howr ladey, 

Felowhes, let me alone ; 
Heyt war howte, seyde Roben, 

To Notynggam well y gon. 

Robyn went to Notynggam, 

Thes pottes for to sell ; 
The potter abode with Robens men, 

Ther he fered not eylle.^ 

1 Grat. 2 Yede. 

3 This stanza is misplaced in the MS., coming after the first 
verse at top of page. 

[and the potter]. 87 

Tho Roben droffe on hes wey, 

So merey ower the londe. 
Heres mor and afFter ys to saye, 

The best ys beheynde. 


When Roben cam to Notynggam, 
The soyt yef y scholde saye, 

He set op hes horse anon, 

And gaffe hem hotys and haye. 

-Yn the medys of the towne, 

Ther he schowed hes war, 
Pottys ! pottys ! he gan crey foil sone, 

Haffe hansell for the mar. 

Foil eifen agenest the screffeys gate, 

Schowed he hes chaffar ; 
Weyffes and wedowes abowt hem drow. 

And chepyd fast of hes war. 

Yet, Pottys, gret chepe ! creyed Robyn, 
Y loffe yeffell thes to stonde. 

And all that saw ^ hem sell, 

Seyde he had be no potter long. 

1 Say. 


The pottys that wer werthe pens feyffe, 

He solde tham for pens thre : 
Preveley seyde man and weyffe, 

Ywnder potter schall never the. 

Thos Roben solde foil fast, 

Tell he had pottys hot feyffe ; 
Op he hem toke of his car, 

And sende hem to the screffeys weyffe. 

Therof sche was foil fayne, 

Gereamarsey, sir, than seyde sche,i 

When ye com to thes centre ayen, 

Y schall bey of ' they' 2 pottys, so mot y the. 

Ye schall haffe of the best, seyde Roben, 

And swar be the treneyt^. 
Foil corteysley ' she' ^ gan hem call, 

Come deyne with the screfe and me. 

Godamarsey, seyde Roben, 

Yowr bedyng schall be doyn. 
A mayden yn the pottys gan ber, 

Roben and the screffe weyffe folowed anon. 

Whan Roben ynto the hall cam, 

The screffe sone he met. 
The potter cowed of corteysey. 

And sone the screffe he gret. 

1 Seyde sche s' than. 2 The. 3 He. 



[and the potter]. 89 

" Loketh ^ what thes potter hayt gefife yow andme! 

Feyffe pottys smalle and grete ! " 
He ys fol wellcom, seyd the screffe, 

Let OS was, and * go ' ^ to mete. 

As they sat at her methe, 

With a nobell cher, 
Two of the screffes men gan speke 

Off a gret wag^r, 

Was made the thother daye, 

Off a schotyng was god and feyne,^ 

Off forty shillings, the soyt to saye, 
Who scholde thes wager wen. 

Styll than sat thes prowde potter, 

Thos than thowt he, 
As y am a trow Cerstyn man, 

Thes schotyng well y se. 

Whan they had fared of the best. 

With bred and ale and weyne, 
To the * bottys they ' ^ made them prest, 

With bowes and boltys ^ foil feyne. 


The screffes men schot foil fast, 

As arch ares that weren godde, 
Ther cam non ner ney the marke , 

Bey halfe a god archares bowe. 

1 Loseth. 2 To. 

3 These two lines are transposed in the MS. 

4 Pottys the. ^ Bolt yt. 



Stell then stod the prowde potter, 

Thos than seyde he, 
And y had a bow, be the rode, 

On schot scholde yow se. 

Thow schall haffe a bow, seyde the screflfe, 
The best that thow well cheys of thre : 

Thow semyst ^ a stalward and a stronge, 
Asay schall thow be. 

The screffe comandyd a yeman that stod hem bey 

Affter bowhes to wende ; 
The best bow that the yeman browthe 

Roben set on a stryng. 

" Now schall y wet and thow be god. 

And polle het op to they ner." 
So god me helpe, seyde the prowde potter, 

Thys ys bot rygzt weke ger. 

To a quequer Roben went, 

A god bolt owthe he toke. 
So ney on to the marke he went, 

He fayled not a fothe. 

All they schot abowthe agen, 
» The screffes men and he. 
Off the marke he welde not fayle, 
He cleffed the preke on thre. 

1 Senyst. 

[and the potter]. 91 

The screffes men thowt gret schame, 

The potter the mastry wan ; 
The screfife lowe and made god game, 

And seyde, Potter, thow art a man ; 
Thow art worthey to ber a bowe, 

Yn what plas that thow ' gang.' 1 

Yn mey cart y hafFe a bowe, 

Forsoyt, he seyde, and that a godde ; 

Yn mey cart ys the bow 

That ' I had of Robyn Hode.' 2 

Knowest thow Robyn Hode ? seyde the screfife, 

Potter, y prey the tell thou me. 
" A hundred tome y hafife schot with hem. 

Under hes tortyll tre." 

Y had lever nar a hundred ponde, seyde the 
And swar be the trenit^, [screfife, 

[Y had lever nar a hundred ponde, he seyde,] 
That the fals owtelawe stod be me. 

And ye well do afiftyr mey red, seyde the potter. 

And boldeley go with me. 
And to morow, or we het bred, 

Roben Hode wel we se. 

1 Goe. » That Robyng gaffe me. 


Y well queyt the, kod the screfife, 
And swere be god of meythe.^ 

Schetyng thay left, and horn they went, 
Her scoper was redey deythe. 

Upon the morow, when het was day, 
He bosky d hem forthe to reyde ; 

The potter hes carte forthe gan ray, 
And wolde not [be] leffe beheynde. 

He toke lefife of the screffys wyffe. 
And thankyd her of all thyng : 

" Dam, for mey loffe, and ye well thys wer, 
Y geffe yow her a golde ryng." 

Gramarsey, seyde the weyffe, 

Sir, god eylde het the. 
The screffes hart was never so leythe, 

The feyr forest to se. 

And when he cam ynto the foreyst, 

Yonder the leffes grene, 
Berdys ther sange on bowhes prest, 

Het was gret goy to sene. 

Her het ys merey to be,2 seyde Roben, 
For a man that had hawt to spende : 

Be mey home < we ' ^ schal awet 
Yeff Roben Hode be * ner hande.' 

1 Mey they. » Se. 3 He. 

[and the potter]. 93 

Roben set hes home to hes ^ mowthe, 
And blow a blast that was foil god, 

That herde hes men that ther stode, 
Fer ^ downe yn the wodde. 

I her mey master, seyde Leytyll John : 
They ran as thay wer wode. 

Whan thay to thar master cam, 

Leytell John wold not spar : 
" Master, how haffe yow far yn Notynggam ? 

Haffe 3 yow solde yowr war ? " 

" Ye, be mey trowthe, Leytyll * John, 

Loke thow take no car ; 
Y haffe browt the screffe of Notynggam, 

For all howr chaffar." 

He ys foil wellcom, seyde Lytyll John, 

Thes tydyng ys foil godde. 
The screffe had lever nar a hundred ponde 

[He had never sene Roben Hode]. 

" Had I west ^ that beforen. 

At Notynggam when we wer, 
Thow scholde not com yn feyr forest 

Of all thes thowsande eyr." 

1 Her, 2 For. 3 How haffe. 

4 I leyty. 6 He had west. 


That wot y well, seyde Roben, 

Y thanke god that y be ^ her ; 
Therfor schall ye leffe yowr horse with hos, 

And all your bother ger. 

That fend I godys forbode, kod the screffe, 

, So to lese mey godde. 
" Hether ye 2 cam on horse foil hey, 

And horn schall ye go on fote ; 
And gret well they weyffe at home, 
The woman ys foil godde. 

Y schall her sende a wheyt palffrey,^ 

Het hambellet as the weynde ; 
Ner for the loffe of yowr weyffe, 

Off mor sorow scholde yow seyng." 

Thes parted Robyn Hode and the screffe. 
To Notynggam he toke the waye ; 

Hes weyffe feyr welcomed hem horn. 
And to hem gan sche saye : 

Seyr, how haffe yow fared yn grene foreyst ? 

Haffe ye browt Roben hom ? 
" Dam, the deyell spede hem, bothe bodey and 

Y haffe hade a foil grete skorne. [bon, 

1 That ye be. « y. 

3 The MS. repeats this line after the following : Het ambellet 
be mey sey. 

[and the potter]. 95 

Of all the god that y hafFe lade to grene wod, 

He hayt take het fro me, 
All hot this feyr palffrey, 

That he hayt sende to the." 

With that sche toke op a lowde lawhyng, 
And swhar be hem that deyed on tre : 

"Now haffe you payed for all the pottys 
That Roben gaffe to me. 

Now ye be com hom to Notynggam, 

Ye schall haffe god ynowe." 
Now speke we of Roben Hode, 

And of the pottyr onder the grene bowhe.^ 

" Potter, what was they pottys worthe 
To Notynggam that y ledde with me ? " 

They wer worth two nobellys, seyd he, 
So mot y treyffe or the ; 

So cowde y had for tham, 
And y had ther be. 2 

Thovv schalt hafe ten ponde, seyde Roben, 

Of money feyr and fre : 
And yever whan thow comest to grene wod, 

Wellcom, potter, to me. 

1 Bowhes. * Be ther. 



Thes partyd Robyn, the screffe, and the potter, 

Ondernethe the grene wod tre. 
God haffe mersey on Roben Hodys solle, 

And saffe all god yemanrey ! 



This poem, a North-country (or perhaps Scotish) composition 
of some antiquity, is given from a modern copy printed at New- 
castle, where it was accidentally picked up : no other edition 
having been ever seen or heard of. The corruptions of the press 
being equally numerous and minute, some of the most trifling 
have been corrected without notice. But it may be proper to 
mention that each line of the printed copy is here thrown into 
two : a step which, though absolutely necessary from the narrow- 
ness of the page, is sufficiently justified by the frequent recurrence 
of the double rime. The division of stanzas was conceived to be 
a still further improvement.— The original title is, "A Pretty 
Dialogue betwixt Robin Hood and a Beggar." 

A similar story ("Comment un moine se d^barasse des 
voleurs ") may be found in ** Le Moyen de Parvenir," i. 304 (edit. 



Lyth and listen, gentlemen, 
That be of high born blood, 

I'll tell you of a brave booting 
That befell Robin Hood. 

Robin Hood upon a day. 
He went forth him alone, 

And as he came from Bamsdale 
Into fair evening. 

He met a beggar on the way, 
Who sturdily could gang ; 

He had a pike-staff in his hand 
That was both stark and Strang ; 

A clouted clock about him was, 
That held him frae the cold. 

The thinnest bit of it, I guess. 
Was more than twenty fold. 

His meal-poke hang about his neck. 

Into a leathern whang. 
Well fasten'd to a broad bucle. 

That was both stark and ' Strang.' 

He had three hats upon his head, 

Together sticked fast. 
He car'd neither for wind nor wet. 

In lands where'er^ he past. 

1 Wher'e. 


Good Robin cast him in the way, 
To see what he might be, 

If any beggar had mon^y, 

He thought some part had he. 

Tarry, tarry, good Robin says, 
Tarry, and speak with me. 

He heard him as he heard him not, 
And fast on his way can hy. 

'Tis be not so, says [good] Robin, 
Nay, thou must tarry still. 

By my troth, said the bold beggkr, 
Of that I have no will. 

It is far to my lodging house, 

And it is growing late. 
If they have supt e'er I come in 

I will look wondrous blate. 

Now, by my truth, says good Robin, 

I see well by thy fare, 
If thou shares well to thy supper, 

Of mine thou dost not care. 

Who wants my dinner all this day 
And wots not where to ly. 

And would I to the tavern go, 
I want money to buy. 



Sir, you must lend me some mon^y 

Till we meet again. 
The beggar answer'd cankardly, 

I have no money to lend : 

Thou art a young man as I, 
And seems to be as sweer ; 

If thou fast till thou get from me, 
Thou shalt eat none this year. 

Now, by my truth, says [good] Robin, 
Since we are assembled so, 

If thou hast but a small farthing, 
I'll have it e'er thou go. 

Come, lay down thy clouted cloak. 

And do no longer stand. 
And loose the strings of all thy pokes, 

I'll ripe them with my hand. 

And now to thee I make a vow, 

If ' thou ' make any din, 
I shall see a broad arr6w. 

Can pierce a beggar's skin. 

The beggar smil'd, and answer made, 

Far better let me be ; 
Think not that I will be afraid. 

For thy nip crooked tree ; 


Or that I fear thee any whit, 

For thy cum nips of sticks, 
I know no use for them so meet 

As to be puding-pricks. 

Here I defy thee to do me ill. 

For all thy boisterous fair, 
Thou's get nothing from me but ill, 

Would'st thou seek evermair. 

Good Robin bent his noble bow, 

He was an angery man. 
And in it set a broad arrow ; 

Lo ! e'er 'twas drawn a span, 

The beggar, with his noble tree, 

Reach'd him so round a rout. 
That his bow and his broad arr6w 

In flinders flew about. 

Good Robin bound him to his brand, 

But that prov'd likewise vain, 
The beggar lighted on his hand 

With his pike-staff again : 

[I] wot he might not draw a sword 

For forty days and mair. 
Good Robin could not speak a word, 

His heart was ne'er so sair. 


He could not fight, he could not flee, 

He wist not what to do ; 
The beggar with his noble tree 

Laid lusty slaps him to. 

He paid good Robin back and side, 

And baist him up and down. 
And with his pyke-staff laid on loud, 

Till he fell in a swoon. 

Stand up, man, the beggar said, 

'Tis shame to go to rest ; 
Stay till thou get thy money told, 

I think it were the best : 

And syne go to the tavern house, 

And buy both wine and ale ; 
Hereat thy friends will crack full crouse, 

Thou hast been at the dale. 

Good Robin answer'd ne'er a word, 

But lay still as a stane ; 
His cheeks were pale as any clay. 

And closed ^ were his een. 

The beggar thought him dead but fail. 

And boldly bound his way. — 
I would ye had been at the dale, 

And gotten part of the play. 

^ Closd. We might read : And clos'd were [baith] his een. 




Now three of Robin's men, by chance, 

Came walking by the way, 
And found their master in a trance, 

On ground where that he lay. 

Up have they taken good Robin, 

Making a piteous bear. 
Yet saw they no man there at whom 

They might the matter spear. 

They looked him all round about. 
But wound on him saw * nane,' 

Yet at his mouth came bocking out 
The blood of a good vain. 

Cold water they have gotten syne, 

And cast unto his face ; 
Then he began to hitch his ear. 

And speak within short space. 

Tell us, dear master, said his men. 
How with you stands the case. 

Good Robin sigh'd e'er he began 
To tell of his disgrace. 


" I have been watchman in this wood 
Near hand this twenty year, 

Yet I was never so hard bestead 
As ye have found me here ; 

A beggar with a clouted clock, 

Of whom I fear'd no ill 
Hath with his pyke-staff cla'd my back, 

I fear 'twill never be well. 

See, where he goes o'er yon hill. 

With hat upon his head ; 
If e'er ye lov'd your master well, 

Go now revenge this deed ; 

And bring him back again to me. 

If it lie in your might. 
That I may see, before I die. 

Him punish'd in my sight : 

And if you may not bring him back. 

Let him not go loose on ; 
For to us all it were great shame 

If he escape again." 

*' One of us shall with you remain, 

Because you're ill at ease. 
The other two shall bring him back. 

To use him as you please." 


Now, by my truth, says good Robin, 

I true there's enough said ; 
And he get scouth to wield his tree, 

I fear you'll both be paid. 

" Be not fear'd, our master. 

That we two can be dung 
With any bluter base beggkr, 

That has nought but a rung. 

His staff shall stand him in no stead, 

That you shall shortly see, 
But back again he shall be led, 

And fast bound shall he be, 
To see if ye will have him slain. 

Or hanged on a tree." 

" But cast you sliely in his way, 

Before he be aware, 
And on his pyke-staff first hands lay, 

Ye'U speed the better far." 

Now leave we Robin with this man. 

Again to play the child. 
And learn himself to stand and gang 

By halds, for all his eild. 

Now pass we to the bold beggkr. 

That raked o'er the hill, 
Who never mended his pace more. 

Then he had done no ill. 



And they have taken another way, 
Was nearer by miles three. 

They stoutly ran with all their might, 

Spared neither dub ' nor ' mire. 
They started at neither how nor height, 

No travel made them tire. 

Till they before the beggar wan. 

And cast them in his way ; 
A little wood lay in a glen, 

And there they both did stay ; 

They stood up closely by a tree. 

In each side of the gate, 
Untill the beggar came them nigh, 

That thought of no such late : 

And as he was betwixt them past. 

They leapt upon him baith ; 
The one his pyke- staff gripped fast. 

They feared for its skaith. 

The other he held in his sight 

A drawen durk to his breast. 
And said, False ' carel,' quit thy staff. 

Or I shall be thy priest. 

1 The preceding lines of this stanza are wanting in the original. 


His pyke-stafF they have taken him frae, 

And stuck it in the green, 
He was full loath to let it gae, 

An better might it been. 

The beggar was the feardest man 

Of any that e'er might be, 
To win away no way he can, 

Nor help him with his tree. 

Nor wist he wherefore he was ta'en, 

Nor how many was there ; 
He thought his life days had been gane, 

He grew into dispair. 

Grant me my life, the beggar said, 

For him that dy'd on the tree, 
And hold away that ugly knife, 

Or else for fear I'll die. 

I griev'd you never in all my life. 

Neither by late or air, 
You have great sin if you would slay 

A silly poor beggkr. 

Thou lies, false lown, they said again, 

For all that may be sworn ; 
Thou hast ' near ' slain the gentlest man 

Of one that e'er was born ; 


And back again thou shall be led, 
And fast bound shalt thou be, 

To see if he will have thee slain, 
Or hanged on a tree. 

The beggar then thought all was wrong. 
They were set for his wrack. 

He saw nothing appearing then 
But ill upon warse back. 

Were he out of their hands, he thought. 

And had again his tree, 
He should not be led back for nought. 

With such as he did see. 

Then he bethought him on a wile. 

If it could take effect. 
How he might the young men beguile. 

And give them a begeck.^ 

Thus to do them shame for ill 
His beastly breast was bent. 

He found the wind blew something shrill, 
To further his intent. 

He said. Brave gentlemen, be good, 

And let a poor man be : 
When ye have taken a beggar's blood, 

It helps you not a flee. 

1 Gave, begack. 



It was but in my own defence, 

If he has gotten skaith ; 
But I will make a recompence 

Is better for you baith. 

If ye will set me fair and free, 

And do me no more dear, 
An hundred pounds I will you give. 

And much more odd silver, 

That I have gather'd this many years. 

Under this clouted cloak, 
And hid up wonder privately, 

In bottom of my poke. 

The young men to the council yeed,^ 

And let the beggar gae ; 
They wist full well he had no speed 

From them to run away. 

They thought they would the money take, 

Come after what so may ; 
And yet they would not take him back, 

But in that place him slay. 

By that good Robin would not know 

That they had gotten coin, 
It would content him [well] to show 

That there they had him slain, 

1 Yeen. 


They said, False carel, soon have done, 

And tell forth thy mon^y, 
For the ill turn that thou hast done 

It's but a simple plee. 

And yet we will not have thee back. 

Come after what so may, 
If thou will do that which thou spak,i 

And make us present pay. 

then he loosed his clouted clock. 
And spread it on the ground, 

And thereon lay he many a poke, 
Betwixt them and the wind. 

He took a great bag from his hals,^ 

It was near full of meal. 
Two pecks in it at least there was. 

And more, I wot full well. 

Upon this cloak he set it down, 

The mouth he opened wide, 
To turn the same he made him bown,^ 

The young men ready spy'd ; 

In every hand he took a nook 
Of that great leathren ' mail,' * 

And with a fling the meal he shook 
Into their face all hail : 

1 Spok. 2 Half. 8 Bound. •* Bag. 


Wherewith he blinded them so close, 

A stime they could not see ; 
And then in heart he did rejoice, 

And clap'd his lusty tree. 

He thought if he had done them wrong, 

In meahng of their cloaths,^ 
For to strike off the meal again 

With his pyke-staff he goes. 

E'er any of them could red their een, 

Or a glimmring might see, 
like one of them a dozen had, 

Well laid on with his tree. 

The young men were right swift of foot, 

And boldly bound away, 
The beggar could them no more hit. 

For all the haste he may. 

What's all this haste ? the beggar said, 

May not you ^ tarry still, 
Untill your money be received ? 

I'll pay you with good will. 

The shaking of my pokes, I fear. 

Hath blown into your een ; 
But I have a good pyke-staff here 

Can ripe them out full clean. 

1 Cloath. 2 Thou. 


The young men answered never a word, 

They were dum as a stane ; 
In the thick wood the beggar fled, 

E'er they riped their een : 

And syne the night became so late. 

To seek him was in vain : 
But judge ye if they looked blate 

When they cam home again. 

Good Robin speer'd how they had sped.^ 

They answered him, Full ill. 
That can not be, good Robin says. 

Ye have been at the mill. 

The mill it is a meat-rife part. 
They may lick what they please, 

Most like ye have been at the art. 
Who would look at your ' claiths.' ^ 

They hang'd their heads, they drooped down, 

A word they could not speak. 
Robin said. Because I fell a-sound, 

I think ye' II do the like. 

Tell on the matter, less or more, 

And tell me what and how 
Ye have done with the bold beggkr 

I sent you for right now. 

1 Speed. 2 cioaths. 


And when they told him to an end, 

As i have said before, 
How that the beggar did them Wind, 

What ' mister ' presses more ? 

And how in the thick woods he fled, 
E'er they a stime could see ; 

And how they scarcely could win home. 
Their bones were baste so sore ; 

Good Robin cry'd, Fy ! out ! for shame ! 
We're sham'd for evermore. 

Altho good Robin would full fain 

Of his wrath revenged be. 
He smil'd to see his merry young men 

Had gotten a taste of the tree. 



is reprinted from the " Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," 
published by Dr. Percy (vol. i. p. 8i), who there gives it from 
his "folio MS." as " never before printed, and 'carrying' marks 
of much greater antiquity than any of the common popular songs 
on this subject." 

As for Guy of Gisborne, the only further memorial which has 
occurred concerning him is in an old satirical piece by William 
Dunbar, a celebrated Scotish poet of the 15th century, on one 
"Schir Thomas Nory" (MS. Maitland, p. 3; MSS. More, LI. 
5, 10), where he is named along with our hero, Adam Bell, and 
other worthies, it is conjectured, of a similar stamp, but whose 
merits have not, less fortunately, come to the knowledge of 


"Was nevir weild Robeine under bewch, 
Nor yitt Roger of Clekkinslewch, 

So bauld a bairne as he ; 
Gy of Gysburne, na Allane Bell, 
Na Simones sones of Quhynsell, 

Off thocht war nevir so slie." 

Gisborneis a market-town in the West Riding of the county of 
York, on the borders of Lancashire. 

In the fourth edition of the publication above referred to, which 
appeared in July 1795, it is acknowleged that "some liberties 
were, by the editor, taken with this ballad, which in this edition 
hath been brought nearer to the folio MS." The new readings 
have therefore been introduced into the present text. 

Whan shaws beene sheene, and shraddes ^ full 
And leaves both large and longe, [fayre, 

Itt's merrye walkyng in the fayre forr^st 
To heare the small birdes songe. 

The woodweele sang, and wold not cease, 

Sitting upon the spraye, 
Soe lowde, he wakened Robin Hood, 

In the greenwood where he lay. 

Now, by my faye, sayd jollye Robin, 

A sweaven I had this night ; 
I dreamt me of tow wighty yem^n, 

That fast with me can fight. 

1 " It should perhaps be swards, i.e. the surface of the ground, 
viz. 'when the fields are in their beauty.'" — Percy. Rather 
shrobbes (shrubs). The plural of sward was never used by any 
writer whatever. For shaws the MS. has shales. 


Methought they did me beate and binde, 
And tooke my bowe me froe ; 

Iff I be Robin alive in this lande, 
He be wroken on them towe. 

Sweavens are swift, master, quoth John, 
As the wind that blowes ore a hill ; 

For iff itt be never so loude this night, 
To-morrow it may be still. 

" Buske yee, bowne yee, my merry men all. 
And John shall goe with mee. 

For He goe seeke yond wighty yeomen, 
In greenwood where they bee." 

Then they cast on theyr gownes of grene. 
And tooke theyr bowes each one ; 

And they away to the greene forr^st 
A shooting forth are gone ; 

Untill they came to the merry greenwood, 
Where they had gladdest to bee, 

There they were ware of a wight yeomkn. 
His body leaned to a tree. 

A sword and a dagger he wore by his side. 

Of manye a man the bane ; 
And he was clad in his capull hyde, 

Topp and tayll and mayne. 


Stand you still, master, quoth Little John, 

Under this tree so grene, 
And I will go to yond wight yeomkn. 

To know what he doth meane. 

" Ah ! John, by me thou settest noe store. 

And that I farley finde : 
How offt send I my men before, 

And tarry my selfe behinde ? 

It is no cunning a knave to ken. 
And a man but heare him speake ; 

And it were not for bursting of my bowe, 
John, I thy head wold breake." 

As often wordes they breeden bale, 
So they parted Robin and John : 

And John is gone to Barnesdale ; 
The gates he knoweth eche one. 

But when he came to Barnesdale, 
Great heavinesse there he hadd. 

For he found tow of his own fellowes, 
Were slaine both in a slade. 

And Scarlette he was flying a-foote 

Fast over stocke and stone. 
For the proud sheriffe with seven score men 

Fast after him is gone. 


One shoote now I will shoote, quoth John, 
With Christ his might and mayrte ; 

He make yond sheriffe that flyes soe fast, 
To stopp he shall be fayne. 

Then John bent up his long bende-bowe, 

And fetteled him to shoote : 
The bow was made of tender boughe, 

And fell downe at his foote. 

'" Woe worth, woe worth thee, wicked wood. 
That ever thou grew on a tree ! 

For now this day thou art my bale. 
My boote when thou shold bee." 

His shoote it was but loosely shott. 
Yet flewe not the arrowe in vaine, 

For itt mett one of the sheriffes men, 
Good William a Trent was slaine. 

It had bene better of William a Trent 
To have bene abed with sorrowe. 

Than to be that day in the greenwood slade 
To meet with Little Johns arrowe. 

But as it is said, when men be mett 
Fyve can doe more than three, 

The sheriffe hath taken Little John, 
And bound him fast to a tree. 


" Thou shalt be drawen by dale and downe, 

And hanged hye on a hill." 
But thou mayst fayle of thy purpose, quoth John, 

If it be Christ his will. 

Lett us leave talking of Little John, 
And thinke of Robin Hood, 

How he is gone to the wight yeomkn, 
Where under the leaves he stood. 

Good morrowe, good fellowe, sayd Robin so fayre, 
Good morrowe, good fellow, quo' he : ^ 

Methinkes by this bowe thou beares in thy hande, 
A good archere thou sholdst bee. 

I am wilfulle of my waye, quo' the yemkn, 

And of my morning tyde. 
He lead thee through the wood, sayd Robin ; 

Good fellow, He be thy guide. 

I seeke an ©utlawe, the straunger sayd, 

Men call him Robin Hood ; 
Rather Hd meet with that proud outlawe 

Than fortye pound soe good. 

1 Dr. Percy, by the marks he has bestowed on this line, seems 
to consider it as the yeoman's reply ; but it seems rather a 
repetition of Robin's complimentary address. 


" Now come with me, thou wighty yemkn 
And Robin thou soone shalt see ; 

But first let us some pastime find • 
Under the greenwood tree. 

First let us some masterye make 

Among the woods so even, 
We may chance to meet with Robin Hood 

Here at some unsett Steven." 

They cutt them down two summer shroggs. 
That grew both under a breere. 

And sett them threescore rood in twaine. 
To shoote the prickes y-fere. 

Leade on, good fellowe, quoth Robin Hood, 

Leade on, I do bidd thee. 
Nay, by my faith, good fellowe, hee sayd, 

My leader thou shalt bee. 

The first time Robin shot at the pricke, 

He mist but an inch it fro : 
The yeoman he was an archer good, 

But he cold never shoote soe. 

The second shoote had the wightye yemkn, 

He shot within the garlknd : 
But Robin he shott far better than hee, 

For he clave the good pricke-wande. 


A blessing upon thy heart, he sayd ; • 
Good fellowe, thy shooting is goode ; 

For an thy hart be as good as thy hand, 
Thou wert better than Robin Hoode. 

Now tell me thy name, good fellowe, sayd he, 

Under the leaves of lyne. 
Nay, by my faith, quoth bold Robin, 

Till thou have told me thine. 

I dwell by dale and downe, quoth hee, 

And Robin to take I me swome ; 
And when I am called by my right name 

I am Guy of good Gisbome. 

My dwelling is in this wood, sayes Robin, 

By thee I set right nought : 
I am Robin Hood of Bam^sdale, 

Whom thou so long hast sought. 

He that had neyther beene kythe nor kin. 
Might have seen a full fayre fight, 

To see how together these yeomen went 
With blades both browne and bright. 

To see how these yeomen together they fought 

Two howres of a summers day : 
Yett neither Robin Hood nor sir Guy 

Them fettled to flye av/ay. 



Robin was reachles on a roote 

And stumbled at that tyde ; 
And Guy was quicke and nimble withall, 

And hitt him ore the left syde. 

Ah, deere ladye, sayd Robin Hood tho, 
Thou art both ^ mother and may, 

I think it was never mans destinye 
To dye before his day. 

Robin thought on our ladye deere. 

And soone leapt up againe, 
And strait he came with a[n] awkwarde ^ stroke, 

And he sir Guy ^ hath slayne. 

He took sir Guys head by the hayre, 
And sticked itt upon his bowes end : 

" Thou hast beene a traytor all thy life, 
Which thing must have an end." 

1 This in the three former editions of the *' Reliques " is impro- 
perly altered to ' but.' 

2 So, according to Percy, reads his MS. He has altered it to 
' backward.' 

3 The title of Sir, Dr. Percy says, was not formerly pecuhar 
to knights ; it was given to priests, and sometimes to very inferior 
personages. If the text did not seem to be in favour of the 
latter part of this assertion, one might reasonably question its 
truth. Another instance, at least, it is believed, admitting this 
to be one, which is by no means certain, cannot be produced. 


Robin pulled forth an Irish knife, 

And nicked sir Guy in the face, 
That he was never on woman born 

Cold tell whose head it was. 

Sayes, Lye there, lye there, now sir Guye, 

And with me be not wrothe ; 
Iff thou have had the worst strokes at my hand, 

Thou Shalt have the better clothe. 

Robin did off his gown of greene, 

And on sir Guy did it throwe, 

And he put on that capull hyde, 

That cladd him topp to toe. 

" The bowe, the arrowes, and little home. 

Now with me I will beare ; 
For I will away to Barn^sdale, 

To see how my men doe fare." 

Robin Hood sett Guyes home to his mouth. 

And a loude blast in it did blow : 
That beheard the sheriffe of Nottingham, 

As he leaned under a lowe. 

Hearken, hearken, sayd the sheriffe, 

I heare nowe tydings good, 
For yonder I heare sir Guyes home blow. 

And he hath slaine Robin Hoode. 


Yonder I heare sir Guyes home blowe, 

Itt blowes soe well in tyde, 
And yonder comes that wightye yeomkn, 

Cladd in his capull hyde. 

Come hyther, come hyther, thou good sir Guy, 

Aske what thou wilt of mee. 
O I will none of thy gold, sayd Robin, 

Nor I will none of thy fee : 

But now I have slaine the master, he sayes, 

Let me goe strike the knave ; 
For this is all the meede I aske ; 

Nor no other will I have. 

Thou art a madman, sayd the sheriffe, 
Thou sholdst have had a knightes fee : 

But seeing thy asking hath beene soe bad, 
Well granted it shal bee. 

When Little John heard his master speake, 
Well knewe he it was his Steven : 

Now shall I be looset, quoth Little John, 
With Christ his might in heaven. 

Fast Robin hee hyed him to Little John, 
He thought to loose him belive ; 

The sheriffe and all his companye 
Fast after him did drive. 


Stand abacke, stand abacke, sayd Robin ; 

Why draw you mee so neere ? 
It was never the use in our country^, 

Ones shrift another shold heere. 

But Robin pulled forth an Irish knife, 

And losed John hand and foote, 
And gave him sir Guyes bow into his hand, 

And bade it be his boote. 

Then John he took Guyes bow in his hand, 
His boltes and arrowes eche one : 

When the sheriffe saw Little John bend his bow. 
He fettled him to be gone. 

Towards his house in Nottingham towne, 

He fled, full fast away ; 
And soe did all the companye : 

Not one behind wold stay. 

But he cold neither runne soe fast, 

Nor away soe fast cold ryde. 
But Little John with an arrowe soe broad, 

He shott him into the ' backe '-syde.^ 

1 Sic PC. quere the MS. 



A briefe touch of the life and death of that re- 
nowned outlaw Robert earl of Huntingdon, vulgarly 
called Robin Hood, who lived and dyed in A. D. 
1198,1 being the 9th year of king Richard the first, 
commonly called Richard Coeur de Lyon. 

Carefully collected out of the truest writers of our 
English Chronicles : and published for the satisfaction 
of those who desire truth from falshood, 

1 An absurd mistake, scarcely worth notice in this place, and 
which the reader will have it in his own power to correct. 


This poem, given from an edition in black letter printed for 
I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1686, remaining in 
the curious library left by Anthony a Wood, appears to have 
been first entered on the hall-book of the Stationers' Company 
the 29th of February 1631. 

Martin Parker was a great writer of ballads, several of which, 
with his initials subjoined, are still extant in the Pepysian and 
other collections. (See "Ancient Songs," 1829, ii. p. 263.) 
Dr. Percy mentions a little miscellany intitled, "The garland 
of withered roses, by Martin Parker, 1656." The editor has, 
likewise, seen "The nightingale warbling forth her own disas- 
ter, or the rape of Philomela : newly written in English verse 
by Martin Parker, 1632;" and, on the 24th of November 
1640, Mr. Oulton enters at Stationers' Hall "a book called 
The true story of Guy earle of Warwicke, in prose, by Martyn 

At the end of this poem the author adds " The epitaph which 
the prioress of the monastry of Kirkslay in Yorkshire set over 
Robin Hood, which," he says, "(as is before mentioned) was 
to be read within these hundred years, though in old broken 
English, much to the same sence and meaning." He gives it 

" Decembris quarto die, 1198. anno regni Richard! primi 9. 

" Robert earl of Huntington 

' ' Lies under this little stone, 

" No archer was like him so good ; 

" His wildness named him Robin Hood ; 

" Full thirteen years, and something more, 

"These northern parts he vexed sore ; 

" Such outlaws as he and his men 

" May England never know again." 

" Some other superstitious words," he adds, "were in, which 
I," says he, " thought fit to leave out." Now, under this precise 
gentleman's favour, one would be glad to know what these same 
" superstitious words " were ; there not being anything of the 


kind in Dr. Gale's copy, which seems to be the original, and 
which is shorter by two lines than the above. Thirteen should 
be thirty. 

Both gentlemen, and yeomen bold, 

Or whatsoever you are. 
To have a stately story told 

Attention now prepare : 

It is a tale of Robin Hood, 

Which i to you will tell ; 
Which, being rightly understood, 

I know will please you well. 

This Robin (so much talked on) 

Was once a man of fame, 
Instiled earl of Huntington, 

Lord Robin Hood by name. 

In courtship and magnificence 
His carriage won him praise, 

And greater favour with his prince 
Than any in ' those ' ^ days. 

In bounteous liberality 

He too much did excell, 
And loved men of quality 

More than exceeding well. 

1 Our. 


His great revenues all he sold 

For wine and costly chear ; 
He kept three hundred bow-men bold, 

He shooting lov'd so dear. 

No archer living in his time 

With him might well compare ; 
He practis'd all his youthful prime . 

That exercise most rare. 

At last, by his profuse expence, 

He had consum'd his wealth ; 
And, being outlaw'd by his prince, 

Ii^ woods he liv'd by stealth. 

The abbot of Saint Maries rich, 

To whom he money ought, 
His hatred to the earl was such 

That he his downfal wrought. 

So being outlaw'd (as 'tis told) 

He with a crew went forth 
Of lusty cutters stout and bold. 

And robbed in the North. 

Among the rest one Little John, 

A yeoman bold and free, 
Who could (if it stood him upon) 

With ease encounter three. 


One hundred men in all he got, 
With whom (the story says) 

Three hundred common men durst not 
Hold combat any waies. 

They Yorkshire woods frequented much, 

And Lancashire also, 
Wherein their practises were such 

That they wrought muckle woe. 

None rich durst travel to and fro. 
Though ne'r so strongly arm'd, 

But by these thieves (so strong in show) 
They still were rob'd and harm'd 

His chiefest spight to th' clergy was, 
That liv'd in monstrous pride : 

No one of them he would let pass 
Along the highway side, 

But first they must to dinner go. 

And afterwards to shrift : 
Full many a one he served so. 

Thus while he liv'd by theft. 

No monks nor fryers he would let go 

Without paying their fees : 
If they thought much to be used so. 

Their stones he made them lese. 


For such as they the country fill'd 

With bastards in those days : 
Which to prevent, these sparks did geld 

All that came in their ways.^ 

But Robin Hood so gentle was, 
And bore so brave a mind, 

If any in distress did pass, 
To them he was so kind. 

That he would give and lend to them, 
To help them in their need ; 

This made all poor men pray for him, 
And wish he well might speed. 

The widow and the fatherless 
He would send means unto ; 

And those whom famine did oppress 
Found him a friendly foe. 

1 There is no authority for imputing this execrable practice 
to our hero or his companions, in any one single instance. If, 
however, the lex talionis were at all justifiable, they certainly 
had sufficient provocation to exercise it — not, indeed, upon the 
clergy, in particular, but upon the king, his ministers, judges, 
and nobles. *'The ancient punishment for killing the king's 
deer," says Dr. Percy, "was loss of eyes and castration: a 
punishment far worse than death !" 


Nor would he do a woman wrong, 
But see her safe convey'd : 

He would protect with power strong 
All those who crav'd his aid. 

The abbot of Saint Maries then, 

Who him undid before. 
Was riding with two hundred men, 

And gold and silver store : 

But Robin Hood upon him set, 
With his couragious sparks, 

And all the coyn perforce did get. 
Which was twelve thousand marks. 

He bound the abbot to a tree, 
And would not let him pass, 

Before that to his men and he 
His lordship had said mass : 

Which being done, upon his horse 

He set him fast astride. 
And with his face towkrds his a — 

He forced him to ride. 

His men were forced to be his guide. 
For he rode backward home : 

The abbot, being thus villify'd, 
Did sorely chafe and fume. 



Thus Robin Hood did vindicate 

His former wrongs receiv'd : 
For 'twas this covetous prelkte 

That him of land bereav'd. 

The abbot he rode to the king, 

With all the haste he could ; 
And to his grace he every thing 

Exactly did unfold : 

And said that if no course wece ta'n, 

By force or stratagem, 
To take this rebel and his train, 

No man should pass for them. 

The king protested by and by 

Unto the abbot then. 
That Robin Hood with speed should dye, 

With all his merry men. 

But e're the king did any send. 

He did another feat. 
Which did his grace much more offend, 

The fact indeed was great : 

For in a short time after that 

The kings receivers went 
Towards London with the coyn they got 

For's highness northern rent : 


Bold Robin Hood and Little John, 

With the rest of their train, 
Not dreading law, set them upon, 

And did their gold obtain. 

The king much moved at the same, 

And the abbots talk also, 
In this his anger did proclaim. 

And sent word to and fro, 

That whosoever alive or dead 
Could bring bold Robin Hood, 

Should have one thousand marks well paid 
In gold and silver good. 

This promise of the king did make 

Full many yeomen bold 
Attempt stout Robin Hood to take 

With all the force they could. 

But still when any came to him 

Within the gay green wood, 
He entertainment gave to them 

With venison fat and good ; 

And shew'd to them such martial sport 
With his long bow and arrow. 

That they of him did give report, 
How that it was great sorow 


That such a worthy man as he 

Should thus be put to shift, 
Being a late lord of high degree, 

Of living quite bereft. 

The king to take him more and more 

Sent men of mickle might ; 
But he and his still beat them sore, 

And conquered them in fight : 

Or else with love and courtesie, 

To him he won their hearts. 
Thus still he liv'd by robbery 

Throughout the northern parts ; 

And all the country stood in dread 

Of Robin Hood and's men : 
For stouter lads ne'r liv'd by bread 

In those days, nor since then. 

The abbot, which before i nam'd, 

Sought all the means he could 
To have by force this rebel ta'n. 

And his adherents bold. 

Therefore he arm'd five hundred men, 

With furniture compleat ; 
But the outlaws slew half of them. 

And made the rest retreat. 


The long bow and the arrow keen 
They were so us'd unto 

That still he kept the forrest green 
In spight o' th' proudest foe. 

Twelve of the abbots men he took, 
Who came to have him ta'n, 

When all the rest the field forsook, 
These he did entertain 

With banqueting and merriment, 
And, having us'd them well, 

He to their lord them safely sent, 
And will'd them him to tell, 

That if he would be pleas'd at last 

To beg of our good king. 
That he might pardon what was past. 

And him to favour bring, 

He would surrender back again 

The mony which before 
Was taken by him ' and his ' men 

From him and many more. 

Poor men might safely pass by him, 
And some that way would chuse, 

For well they knew that to help them 
He evermore did use. 


But where he knew a miser rich 

That did the poor oppress, 
To feel his coyn his hands did itch, 

He'd have it, more or less : 

And sometimes, when the high-way fail'd, 

Then he his courage rouzes, 
He and his men have oft assaild 

Such rich men in their houses : 

So that, through dread of Robin then, 

And his adventurous crew. 
The misers kept great store of men. 

Which else maintain'd but few. 

King Richard, of that name the first, 

Sirnamed Coeur de Lyon, 
Went to defeat the Pagans curst, 

Who kept the coasts of Sion. 

The bishop of Ely, chancellor. 

Was left a vice-roy here. 
Who, like a potent emperor. 

Did proudly domineer. 

Our chronicles of him report. 

That commonly he rode 
With a thousand horse from court to court 

Where he would make abode. 




He, riding down towards the north, 

With his aforesaid train, 
Robin and his men did issue forth, 

Them all to entertain : 

And with the gallant gray-goose wing 
They shew'd to them such play 

That made their horses kick and fling, 
And down their riders lay, 

Full glad and fain the bishop was, 
For all his thousand men. 

So seek what means he could to pass 
From out of Robins ken. 

Two hundred of his men were kill'd. 
And fourscore horses good. 

Thirty, who did as captives yield. 
Were carried to the green wood ; 

Which afterwards were ransomed, 
For twenty marks a man : 

The rest set spurs to horse and fled 
To th' town of Warrington. 

The bishop, sore inraged, then 
Did, in king Richards name. 

Muster up a power of northern men. 
These outlaws bold to tame. 


But Robin with his courtesie 

So won the meaner sort, 
That they were loath on him to try 

What rigour did import. 

So that bold Robin and his train 

Did live unhurt of them, 
Until king Richard came again 

From fair Jerusalem : 

And then the talk of Robin Hood 

His royal ears did fill ; 
His grace admir'd that i' th' green wood 

He was continued still. 

So that the country far and near 

Did give him great applause ; 
For none of them need stand in fear, 

But such as broke the laws. 

He wished well unto the king, 

And prayed still for his health, 
And never practis'd any thing 

Against the common-wealth. 

Only, because he was undone 

By th' cruel clergy then, 
All means that he could think upon 

To vex such kind of men. 


He enterpriz'd with hateful spleen; 

For which he was to blame, 
For fault of some to wreak his teen 

On all that by him came. 

With wealth that he by roguery got 
Eight alms-houses he built, 

Thinking thereby to purge the blot 
Of blood which he had spilt. 

Such was their blind devotion then, 
Depending on their works ; 

Which if 'twere true, we Christian men 
Inferiour were to Turks. 

But, to speak true of Robin Hood, 

And wrong him not a jot, 
He never would shed any mans blood 

That him invaded not. 

Nor would he injure husbandmen. 
That toil at cart and plough ; 

For well he knew wer't not for them 
To live no man knew how. 

The king in person, with some lords. 

To Nottingham did ride. 
To try what strength and skill affords 

To crush this outlaws pride. 


And, as he once before had done, 

He did again proclaim, 
That whosoever would take upon 

To bring to Nottingham, 

Or any place within the land, 

Rebellious Robin Hood, 
Should be preferr'd in place to stand 

With those of noble blood. 

When Robin Hood heard of the same, 

Within a little space, 
Into the town of Nottingham 

A letter to his grace 

He shot upon an arrow head. 

One evening cunningly ; 
Which was brought to the king, and read 

Before his majesty. 

The tenour of this letter was 

That Robin would submit, 
And be true liegeman to his grace 

In any thing that's fit, 

So that his highness would forgive 

Him and his merry men all ; 
If not, he must i' th' green wood live. 

And take what chance did fall. 


The king would feign have pardoned him, 
But that some lords did say, 

This president will much condemn 
Your grace another day. 

While that the king and lords did stay 

Debating on this thing, 
Some of these outlaws fled away 

Unto the Scottish king. 

For they suppos'd, if he were ta'n 

Or to the king did yield. 
By th' commons all the rest of 's train 

Full quickly would be quell'd. 

Of more than full an hundred men, 

But forty tarried still, 
Who were resolv'd to stick to him, 

Let Fortune work her will. 

If none had fled, all for his sake 

Had got their pardon free ; 
The king to favour meant to take 

His merry men and he. 

But e're the pardon to him came 

This famous archer dy'd : 
His death and manner of the same 

rie presently describe. 


For, being vext to think upon 

His followers revolt, 
In melancholy passion 

He did recount his fault. 

Perfidious traytors ! said he then. 

In all your dangers past 
Have i you guarded as my men, 

To leave me thus at last ! 

This sad perplexity did cause 

A feaver, as some say. 
Which him unto confusion draws, 

Though by a stranger way. 

This deadly danger to prevent, 

He hie'd him with all speed 
Unto a nunnery, with intent 

For his healths-sake to bleed. 

A faithless fryer did pretend 

In love to let him blood, 
But he by falshood wrought the end 
• Of famous Robin Hood. 

The fryer, as some say, did this 

To vindicate the wrong 
Which to the clergy he and his 

Had done by power strong. 


Thus dyed he by treachery, 
That could not die by force ; 

Had he liv'd longer, certainly 
King Richard, in remorse, 

Had unto favour him receiv'd, 
' His ' brave men elevated : 

'Tis pitty he was of life bereav'd 
By one which he so hated. 

A treacherous leach this fryer was, 
To let him bleed to death ; 

And Robin was, methinks, an ass 
To trust him with his breath. 

His corps the prioress of the place. 
The next day that he dy'd. 

Caused to be buried, in mean case. 
Close by the high-way side. 

And over him she caused a stone 
To be fixt on the ground. 

An epitaph was set thereon. 
Wherein his name was found ; ' 

The date o' th' year and day also, 
She made to be set there : 

That all, who by the way did go, 
Might see it plain appear. 


That such a man as Robin Hood 

Was buried in that place ; 
And how he lived in the green wood 

And robbed for a space. 

It seems that though the clergy he 

Had put to mickle woe, 
He should not quite forgotten be 

Although he was their foe. 

This woman, though she did him hate 

Yet loved his memory ; 
And thought it wondrous pitty that 

His fame should with him dye. 

This epitaph, as records tell. 

Within this hundred years. 
By many was discerned well. 

But time all things out-wears. 

His followers, when he was dead, 

Were some repriev'd to grace ; 
The rest to foreign countries fled. 

And left their native place. 

Although his funeral was but mean. 

This woman had in mind, 
Least his fame should be buried clean 

From those that came behind. 



For certainly, before nor since, 

No man e're understood, 
Under the reign of any prince. 

Of one like Robin Hood. 

Full thirteen years, and something more. 

These outlaws lived thus ; 
Feared of the rich, loved of the poor : 

A thing most marvellous. 

A thing impossible to us 

This story seems to be ; 
None dares be now so venturous, 

But times are chang'd we see. 

We that live in these later days 

Of civil government, 
If need be, have an hundred ways 

Such outlaws to prevent. 

In those days men more barbarous were, 

And lived less in awe ; 
Now (god be thanked) people fear 

More to offend the law. 

No waring guns were then in use. 
They dreamt of no such thing ; 

Our Englishmen in fight did use 
The gallant gray-goose wing ; 


In which activity these men, 

Through practise, were so good, 
That in those days none equal'd them, 

Especially Robin Hood. 

So that, it seems, keeping in caves, 

In woods and forests thick, 
They'd beat a multitude with staves. 

Their arrows did so prick : 

And none durst neer unto them come, 

Unless in courtesie ; 
All such he bravely would send home 

With mirth and jollity : 

Which courtesie won him such love, 

As i before have told, 
'Twas the chief cause that he did prove 

More prosperous than he could. ^ 

Let us be thankful for these times 

Of plenty, truth and peace ; 
And leave our great and horrid crimes, 

Least they cause this to cease. 

I know there's many feigned tales 

Of Robin Hood and 's crew ; 
But chronicles, which seldome fails, 

Reports this to be true. 

1 i.e. than he could otherwise have been. 


Let none then think this is a lye, 
For, if 'twere put to th' worst, 

They may the truth of all descry 
r th' reign of Richard the first. 

If any reader please to try, 

As i direction show, 
The truth of this brave history, 

He'l find it true I know. 

And i shall think my labour well 
Bestow'd to purpose good, 

When't shall be said that i did tell 
True tales of Robin Hood.